R. Conte: I. Which is correct, creationism or evolution? Neither is entirely correct. Creationism is not the teaching of the Catholic Church.
R. Sungenis: Actually, creationism is, indeed, the teaching of the Catholic Church, but it has been forgotten and ignored. The Fathers of the Church were unanimous in teaching creationism, and the Fourth Lateran Council and Vatican I made dogmatic pronouncements on creationism.
In 1215 at the 4th Lateran Council, this dogmatic statement was made:
“[God] who by His own omnipotent power at once from the beginning of time created each creature from nothing, spiritual, and corporal, namely, angelic and mundane, and finally the human, constituted as it were, alike of the spirit and the body.” (Denz. 428)
In fact, evolutionary theory had been virtually silenced by the Church, as was the case in 1860 when the Council of Cologne condemned the idea of human evolution in very straightforward words:
"Our first parents were formed immediately by God. Therefore we declare that...those who...assert...man...emerged from spontaneous continuous change of imperfect nature to the more perfect, is clearly opposed to Sacred Scripture and to the Faith."
In this statement the Church teaches that man, as defined by the Church, was definitely not the product of an evolutionary process. Whatever one believes about the origin of animals (i.e., that they were made over millions of years), the Church, at least in this instance, is clear that man is not a product of animals; rather, he was made independently.
Ten years later, Vatican Council I in 1870, stated the following in Session III, Chapter 1:
“[God] immediately from the beginning of time fashioned each creature out of nothing, spiritual and corporeal, namely, angelic and mundane; and then the human creation, common as it were, composed of both spirit and body.” (Denz. 1783)
Vatican I then laid out this infallible dogmatic statement, along with an accompanying anathema, saying:
"If anyone does not confess that the world and all things which are contained in it, both spiritual and material, as regards their whole substance, have been produced by God from nothing, let him be anathema." (Denz. 1805).
Vatican I adds new strictures that were not in previous conciliar statements. Not only is man in view, but Vatican I specifies that "the world and all the things which are contained in it" are the product of ex nihilo creation.
Moreover, Vatican I says "in their whole substance," the first time the Church had specified this phrase. The requirement that things be made "out of nothing" is one thing, but in "their whole substance" makes it very difficult for anyone to advance the theory of evolution, for unless evolution can show that it's upward processes result in fulfilling Vatican I's criterion, then its efforts are futile.
Vatican I does not say "the parts of their substance have been produced by God from nothing," or "the inner workings of progressive development," but it says specifically "their whole substance has been produced by God from nothing." Some try to pass off Vatican I’s reference to “whole substance” as referring to metaphysical substance as opposed to corporeal substance, but Vatican I makes no such specification.
This is especially significant since Vatican I specifies that along with the corporal creatures the "spiritual" creatures were made out of nothing in their whole substance. "Spiritual" must refer to the angels. No one has ever argued that the angels came into existence by an evolutionary process. The church has always taught that the angels were created out of nothing, instantaneously, in their whole being. That being the case, we are on safe ground in concluding that Vatican I was not simply interested in combating the idea of materialism (that is, the Greek concept that things came into being from pre-existing matter) but of promoting the idea that God created his creatures whole and complete, both spiritual and corporal. In essence, if instantaneous wholeness applies to the spiritual realm, it must also apply to the physical realm, otherwise Vatican I would be creating a contradiction in terms.
Pope Leo XIII, in his 1880 encyclical Arcanum Divinae Sapientiae, stated this about Creation:
"We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep."
We see that Leo makes mention of the "sixth day of creation" when God created Adam from the dust. Leo is not viewing the sixth day as representing millions of years, since evolution would require the existence of primates between the dust and Adam. Leo makes no such provision. His interpretation of Genesis seems clear: the dust was instantaneously fashioned into the first man.
We surmise this is Leo's intent because he purposely adds that Eve was "miraculously" taken from the side of Adam on the same sixth day when Adam was in a "locked" sleep. If Eve was miraculously made, then she was made instantaneously. Consequently, if Leo thought Eve was created instantaneously, it would be logical to assume that he meant that Adam was miraculously made instantaneously, for Leo offered no hint of a methodological distinction between the creation of Adam and the creation of Eve.
If Leo thought there was an evolutionary distinction in Adam and Eve's respective appearances, then it is reasonable to assume he would have mentioned it. Without it, Leo's silence is deafening against theistic evolution. In fact, knowing the insurmountable problems Eve causes for theistic evolution, in 1932 one Catholic evolutionist, J. Paquier, proposed that Adam and Eve were twins from the same immediate ancestor.
R. Conte: The Church does not teach that the world was created in only six literal 24-hour days.
R. Sungenis: Again, it is a doctrine that has been forgotten or ignored. The Fathers of the Church were unanimous on a 24-hour time for the days of Genesis 1. The only exception was Augustine, since he believed it was possible to say that the six days were instantaneous. Some examples from the Fathers include:
Basil: “Thus were created the evening and the morning. Scripture means the space of a day and a night.…If it therefore says ‘one day,’ it is from a wish to determine the measure of day and night, and to combine the time that they contain. Now twenty-four hours fills up the space of one day – we mean of a day and of a night.”
Gregory of Nyssa: Gregory confirms the views of Basil on the details of the Creation in the following passage: “Before I begin, let me testify that there is nothing contradictory in what the saintly Basil wrote about the creation of the world since no further explanation is needed. They should suffice and alone take second place to the divinely inspired Testament. Let anyone who hearkens to our attempts through a leisurely reading be not dismayed if they agree with our words. We do not propose a dogma which gives occasion for calumny; rather, we wish to express only our own insights so that what we offer does not detract from the following instruction. Thus let no one demand from me questions which seem to fall in line with common opinion either from holy Scripture or explained by our teacher. My task is not to fathom those matters before us which appear contradictory; rather, permit me to employ my own resources to understand the text’s objective. With God’s help we can fathom what the text means which follows a certain defined order regarding creation. ‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth’ [Gn 1:1], and the rest which pertains to the cosmogenesis which the six days encompass.”
Ambrose: “But Scripture established a law of twenty-four hours, including both day and night, should be given the name of day only, as if one were to say the length of one day is twenty-four hours in extent.” “In the beginning of time, therefore God created heaven and earth. Time proceeds from this world, not before the world. And the day is a division of time, not its beginning.” “But now we seem to have reached the end of our discourse, since the 6th day is completed and the sum total of the work has been concluded.”
Victorinus: “The Creation of the World: In the beginning God made the light, and divided it in the exact measure of twelve hours by day and by night, for this reason, doubtless, that day might bring over the night as an occasion of rest for men’s labours; that, again, day might overcome, and thus that labour might be refreshed with this alternate change of rest, and that repose again might be tempered by the exercise of day. “On the fourth day He made two lights in the heaven, the greater and the lesser, that the one might rule over the day, the other over the night.”
Ephrem the Syrian: “‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,’ that is, the substance of the heavens and the substance of the earth. So let no one think that there is anything allegorical in the works of the six days. No one can rightly say that the things that pertain to these days were symbolic.”
Theophilus: “Of this six days’ work no man can give a worthy explanation and description of all its parts...on account of the exceeding greatness and riches of the wisdom of God which there is in the six days’ work above narrated.”
Irenaeus: “For in as many days as this world was made, in so many thousand years shall it be concluded….For the day of the Lord is as a thousand years; and in six days created things were completed: it is evident, therefore, that they will come to an end at the sixth thousand year.”
R. Conte: The Church has always understood this passage from Scripture to refer to a much longer period of time. Each 'day' of creation is a metaphorical day, i.e. some period of time, not a literal day.
R. Sungenis: No, quite the opposite, as we see from the Fathers above. The medievals believed the same, as did the Councils. The only slight change was the statement by the Pontifical Biblical Commission in 1909. The commission stated that the "day" in Genesis 1 could be "either in its strict sense as the natural day, or in a less strict sense as signifying a certain space of time." Why allow a "less strict sense" as well as the "strict sense"? Not because the Commission was advocating the theory of evolution or that a day in Genesis 1 comprises millions of years. Neither of those ideas had been advanced by the Church, at least not in 1909.
In light of the other Scriptures that use the word "day" in an indefinite sense, the Commission really had no choice but to affirm that the Hebrew word YOM could sometimes be translated figuratively or as an indefinite period of time. In fact, there are five different ways YOM is used in Scripture.
But the Commission did not comment on the other important time-clues in Genesis 1. The Commission never said that the phrase "evening and morning" could be taken in a "less strict" or figurative sense, since Scripture never offered them any cases in which that phrase was used in a non-literal way. "Evening and morning" is very specific and it is used less than a dozen times in Scripture. In contrast, the Hebrew word YOM is used over 2000 times in Scripture, with various shades of meaning.
In any case, the Commission did not say that, even in its indefinite sense, the Hebrew YOM could be interpreted as referring to millions or billions of years. They only said "a certain space of time." In reality, every indication we have shows that they did not intend to make a definitive judgment on this issue or suggest they believed in evolution. The Commission certainly could not go against the decision made thirty years earlier by Pope Leo XIII which stated that God made Eve miraculously from the side of Adam on the sixth day, a period of time which would have comprised 24 hours, from sunset to sunrise.
The significance of Eve is borne out by the fact that, since according to Leo XIII she was created "miraculously" on the "sixth day," and since the text of Genesis tells us her creation occurred in an "evening and morning," then this would confine the sixth day to being a short period of time (i.e., 24 hours), since miracles are instantaneous. Since Leo is clear that Eve's creation was miraculous, we really have no other choices.
The Commission was certainly aware of the other clear statements at Vatican 1 and the Council of Cologne as being the precedent setting magisterial statements for Church teaching on this subject. So it is highly unlikely that they were suggesting a theory of evolution by their admission that YOM, according to Scripture, can be taken in a literal or non-literal fashion.
R. Conte: Creationism also errs by ignoring, or unreasonably denying, scientific theories and evidence that are worthy of consideration by the reason of man. However, creationism does correctly teach that God created everything that exists.
R. Sungenis: Actually, the opposite is true. Evolution, although it purports to be scientific, actually ignores the scientific evidence that denies evolution. Conversely, creationism, especially in the last 60 years, has advanced many scientific arguments to support its position (e.g., on the formation of the geologic column; radiometry and C-14 testing; dinosaur excavation; gene mutations; etc.). See my book, The Book of Genesis, Chapters 1-11 for more information on this topic.
R. Conte: The theory of evolution certainly contains some truth and has much scientific evidence to support it.
R. Sungenis: No, evolution contains no truth and there is no scientific evidence to support it. What is understood as “evolution” invariably turns out to be nothing more than species modification from environmental factors, a system of modification that God built into each species so that it could adapt to changes in the environment. But there is no evidence of one species evolving into a totally different species.
R. Conte: But it also denies (or ignores) the fact that God created all things and guides all things. It denies that God used His power, providence, and grace to cause or to guide the various events of creation and of the development of life. And it particularly denies that God chose to create the human race and to give human persons an immortal soul.
R. Sungenis: True enough, but this also reveals the motivation behind evolution. Evolution was not invented to support the existence of God but to deny His existence. But since Christians were intimidated by science, they began to believe that they were required to meld Genesis with the assertions of Darwinian science, so in the late 19th and early 20th centuries they put forth such theories as theistic evolution or progressive creationism. This was before other Christians began studying the science in the mid-twentieth century and discovered that there was no need to meld Genesis with evolution since the science did not support evolution; rather, it denied it.
R. Conte: So, both creationism and evolution teach some truth and some falsehoods.
R. Sungenis: No, there are no falsehoods in creationism. God created the world in six days by his omnipotent power. What could be false about that?
R. Conte: II. What is the correct Catholic understanding of evolution? Some portions of the theory of evolution have been proven to such an extent that they can be called scientific fact.
R. Sungenis: This is totally false. No “portion” of the evolutionary theory has been shown to be true. If Mr. Conte believes otherwise, the burden of proof is on him to show one example of such proof rather than make mere assertions.
R. Conte: However, other portions of this theory are a matter of debate and disagreement among scientists, and have undergone, and continue to undergo, substantial revision. For example, the field of genetics has changed and added much to Darwin's original concepts.
R. Sungenis: Genetics has done nothing but falsify evolution, since no genetic theory has been able to explain how an evolved species acquires new genes from a species that did not possess those genes. Gene mutations do not solve the problem, since close to 99% of mutations are harmful.
R. Conte: Also, evolution was once thought of as the accumulation of a large number of small changes over a long period of time; but it is now acknowledged that, at least in some cases, evolution involves significant change in a short time, as well as long periods of relative stagnation. And each new scientific fact has the potential to revise prior scientific facts, no matter how well proven any of these facts may be.
R. Sungenis: Mr. Conte makes it appear as if all the changes to the theory of evolution prove its authenticity but in reality it shows how dubious a theory it really is. If a theory has to change so drastically, it is a sign of weakness, not strength. For example, the change from gradual to sudden evolution (otherwise known as “punctuated equilibrium” and which was invented by Stephen Gould, a Harvard paleontologist) was the result of evolutionists not being able to find any transitional fossils (specimens of an intermediate species between one species and the evolved species). Darwin himself said that if transitional fossils could not be found then evolution was falsified. But since forsaking evolution would make an atheist like Stephen Gould have no answer to either God’s existence or creationism, he invented the outlandish theory of punctuated equilibrium and claimed that the evolutionary process was so quick that there was hardly any fossil evidence available and thus we can’t find it today. How convenient. Gould turned the prima facie evidence that falsified evolution into a conjured up theory that was made to support it.
A most recent example of how evolutionists twist or ignore the evidence comes from field researcher Mary H. Schweitzer who writes in the December 2010 issue of the most prestigious science magazine today, Scientific American. She talks about her discovery of soft tissue and blood cells in the bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex dinosaur that, according to modern evolutionary dating techniques, is about 70 million years old. But science tells us that organic tissue could barely last 7,000 years, much less 10,000 times 7,000 years. So what does science do with this anomaly? It pleads ignorance, and it does so while it tries to find a way to dismiss the evidence. When Ms. Schweitzer brought her evidence to Jack Horner, curator of paleontology at the museum and one of the world’s foremost dinosaur authorities, after a long look under the microscope at the nucleated blood cells of the T-Rex, he said to Ms. Schweitzer: “So prove to me they aren’t.” That about sums up the history of the bias and deliberate attempts to twist the evidence in favor of evolution that occurs on a daily basis in our high school and college classrooms. Whereas Ms. Schweitzer’s find should have been hailed as one of the most astounding discoveries in history since Darwin wrote his book on the evolutionary hypothesis in 1879, she is basically assigned the impossible task of finding a way to dismiss the blood cell’s prima facie denial of evolution, and implied in that “request” is the fact that she will lose her job if she doesn’t seek an alternative answer. What does Ms. Schweitzer decide to do? The next sentence in her story tells us loud and clear. She capitulates to the reigning paradigm of modern science, without question: “It was an irresistible challenge, and one that has helped frame how I ask my research questions, even now.” So Ms. Schweitzer, in order to continue to be a member of the status quo and receive her pay check from the powers-that-be, remains an ardent evolutionist, seeking to deny the common sense knowledge her heart and mind scream at her about what it means to see blood cells in dinosaur remains.
We wrote to Ms. Schweitzer a few weeks ago. She claimed she was not an interpreter of the evidence but just a data collector. She also challenged us to come up with a viable interpretation of the blood cells. So we offered to do a Carbon-14 test on the T-Rex bone. We know from other C-14 tests we had done on dinosaur bones that the most they would provide is 20,000 to 30,000 years, if that. Predictably, Ms. Schweitzer declined our offer. We also wrote to Jack Horner, but he never wrote back.
R. Conte: The Church does not forbid its members to consider and to adhere to various scientific theories and teachings, as long as these do not contradict any teaching of the Church on faith or morals.
R. Sungenis: Actually, there is no official statement from the Church that says Catholics are allowed to believe in evolution, in contradiction to the Fathers and Councils. There is merely an unofficial and popular consensus today in the hierarchy and laypeople that it is acceptable to believe in evolution.
R. Conte: And all Christians should consider it part of their duty in life to make use of the intellectual ability given to them by God, including the ability to reason about ideas presented by various fields of study.
R. Sungenis: Yes, indeed. And if he does so by investigating the science, he will find that evolution is one of the most unsupported and dubious theories ever proposed.
R. Conte: On the other hand, the approach of some fundamentalists, who blindly argue against every scientific theory that seems to threaten their point-of-view, is contrary to the will of God and is a sin against the gift of reason given to man by God.
R. Sungenis: No, quite the contrary. The “fundamentalists” actually know more science than the evolutionists. Creationists have won every public debate against evolution based on nothing more than the science of biology, genetics, paleontology, archeology, cosmogony and cosmology, that is, if you can find an evolutionist who is willing to debate.
R. Conte: Now the theory of evolution has some aspects that are acceptable to Christians, and it has other aspects that must be rejected by all faithful Christians.
“For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter-for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God.” (Humani Generis, n. 36)
R. Sungenis: Humani Generis does not say it is acceptable for a Catholic to hold to evolution; rather, it says that he is permitted to investigate the theory. “Fundamentalists” have been investigating evolution for many years, and have found it highly dubious. We thank Pius XII for allowing us to do such research, otherwise we would not have known how bankrupt a theory evolution really is.
R. Conte: Several categories of ideas about evolution are acceptable to the Christian faith, including, but not limited to the following:
1. Life on earth developed over a long period of time.
R. Sungenis: The Church has never taught this in any official statement. The closest it came to allowing the “Day” of Genesis 1 to be something other than 24 hours was in the 1909 Pontifical Biblical Commission statement, but even then the PBC did not say that “Day” refers to a “long period of time.”
R. Conte: 2. The development of life progressed in stages, from simpler organisms to more complex ones.
R. Sungenis: No, there is no official teaching from the Church saying such. The only thing we have from the Church was spelled out at the councils of Lateran IV, Cologne and Vatican I, which said that God made everything ex nihilo, immediately, and in whole substance. The only “stages” it speaks of are the stages detailed by Vatican I, that is, “[God] immediately from the beginning of time fashioned each creature out of nothing, spiritual and corporeal, namely, angelic and mundane; and then the human creation.” The phrase “and then” (Latin: deinde) shows a sequence in which the human being was the last phase of the creation and that the angels, vegetation, minerals and animals were made previous to the human, thus coinciding with the Genesis account.
R. Conte: 3. The development of species included some species giving rise to other species, through a series of changes that occur from one generation to the next, and some species becoming extinct.
R. Sungenis: No, not only does the Catholic Church not have an official statement endorsing this view, the fact of science is that no scientist has been able to tell us the genetic mechanism for how one species gives rise to another species. Mutations and natural selection have not been able to provide the proof.
R. Conte: 4. Genetic changes are involved in the development of life and of various species.
R. Sungenis: There may be genetic modifications to some degree, even as some genes “turn off” if not used, but there is no genetic change documented that shows one species evolving into another.
R. Conte: 5. Various factors are involved in these genetic changes, including the survival of one species over another due partly to genetic factors that make a species or individual better adapted to their environment.
R. Sungenis: Granted, but this is not evolution. It is merely modification within a particular species to adapt to the environment.
R. Conte: 6. Random chance may play some role in the development of life and of various species, for example in the random mutation of genes, or in the occurrence of environment-altering events, such as a comet crashing into the earth.
R. Sungenis: No, these have not been shown to be constructive, at all. Mutations are almost always harmful, and the ones that aren’t harmful do not develop the species into something better (e.g., the gene mutation that put four wings on a two-winged fruit fly. The two extra wings were totally useless to the fruit fly). If evolution were true, it would require that 99% of gene mutations were beneficial, not harmful, but such is not the case. Mutation actually deteriorate the species, not advance it.
R. Conte: 7. Specific details and variations within the theory of evolution, which are debated by evolutionists, often do not contradict the Christian faith, even when scientists cannot agree. These ideas about evolution are not the teaching of the Church. But, because these ideas do not contradict Church teaching, they may be accepted by individuals in accordance with reason. These ideas may or may not be proven to be true in the long run.
R. Sungenis: They contradict the Fathers, the medievals, the tradition, the Councils, since all those sources did not endorse evolution but, in fact, rejected the evolutionary ideas that began with the Greeks, not Darwin. There is no official statement from the Catholic Church, ancient or modern, that endorses the theory of evolution.
R. Conte: However, several categories of ideas about evolution are entirely unacceptable to the Christian faith, including, but not limited to the following:
1. The idea that the starting point for life on earth was a random or chance event.
R. Sungenis: Granted, but the fact that secular evolutionists believe it was a random event shows what the philosophical basis for evolution really is. But those of Conte’s persuasion think they can reject the philosophical basis but keep the mechanical details, whereas according to secular evolutions the philosophy and the mechanics are two sides of the same coin. The secular evolutionist is forced to keep reinventing the mechanics of evolution (even though the science keeps falsifying the mechanics) because, as he admits himself, the alternative is having to believe in creationism, which to him is totally unacceptable. Instead of seeing the dichotomy here, Conte, who obviously wants to appear “scientific,” accepts the dichotomy and believes he is saving the secular evolutionist from himself. The reality is, Conte isn’t being scientific at all. He is actually as anti-science as the secular evolutionist, since he both cannot show any scientific proof for evolution and totally ignores the science that refutes evolution.
R. Conte: On the contrary, the Church teaches that God chose to create the universe, and the earth, and life on earth, and that these events occurred in some cases by a singular act of God (such as the creation of the universe out of nothing), and in other cases by God's Providence guiding all things.
R. Sungenis: Actually, Lateran IV, Cologne and Vatican I say much more than just the universe. They specify that “all things,” that is, all the components of the universe, “angels, mundane and then the human,” were created by God out of nothing. None of these councils give any credence to the idea that the universe at large was created ex nihilo but that its parts evolved.
R. Conte: 2. The idea that the direction that evolution takes is entirely random, or that it is due solely to a set of factors (such as genetics, environment, etc.) that do not include God.
R. Sungenis: This is the illogical argument called petition principia, that is, Mr. Conte hasn’t first proven the viability of evolution (either through genetics or environment) and thus it is illogical to assume God is behind any of it, random or non-random.
R. Conte: On the contrary, the Church teaches that God always nurtures His Creation, through subtle Providence as well as through extraordinary or miraculous acts. The idea that the development of life on earth has no particular direction, other than the survival and multiplication of various species. On the contrary, the Church teaches that God guides all things and that God has a plan for His Creation.
R. Sungenis: Actually, we have seen that the Church teaches in the Councils cited above that God does more than just nurture His creation. He brought “all things” into existence immediately and out of nothing. According to the Councils, there were no exceptions.
R. Conte: 4. The idea that the human species might never have developed and that this was a chance event. On the contrary, the Church teaches that God intended to create mankind and that He deliberately created the other species of life on earth for the sake of mankind.
R. Sungenis: Yes, and that creation was ex nihilo and immediate, according to the dogmatic statements of the Councils.
R. Conte: 5. The idea that the human species developed gradually, such that there could be no clear demarcation of the start of the human species. On the contrary, if the body of man developed gradually through evolution, the Church nevertheless requires the belief that, at some discrete point in time, by a singular act of God, the human form leapt suddenly from darkness into light by being given a soul and a mind guided by freewill and reason. Just as the earth began as a formless void in darkness, until God said, 'Let there be light,' so also, the progenitors of humanity were like a formless void in darkness, lacking a soul, freewill, and reason, until God gave us the light of an immortal soul.
R. Sungenis: Actually, the Church merely teaches that if science could prove evolution as an indisputable and scientific fact, only then would the Church concede that there would have to be a definitive demarcation between animal and man, which is understood as the divine infusion of a human soul into the latter. But this is merely hypothetical teaching; what is known as an “if…then” scenario. The Church is not saying that it believes in evolution or that there actually was a time in which an animal became a man. Hypothetical arguments are not Catholic doctrine. The Catholic doctrine was stipulated at Lateran IV, Cologne and Vatican I, and in those documents there is nothing endorsing even the concept of evolution.
R. Conte: 6. The idea that the first human persons were not one man and one woman, but a group of individuals. “When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is in no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.” (Humani Generis, n. 37).
R. Sungenis: Actually, there are many Catholic evolutionists who are trying to get around this restriction since they realize that evolution cannot work without polygenism, and they are correct. You cannot say that the human race evolved from many sources and also say that there was one primal male and female progenitor. It just doesn’t work. This in itself should be the death knell for theistic evolution, but, of course, the counterclaim is made that “God could bypass the normal evolutionary process and pick just one couple from the many and call them Adam and Eve.” Yes, and God could have put green cheese on the moon, but where is the evidence that He did so? This kind of patch work theology merely shows the weakness of the whole theistic evolutionary scheme.
R. Conte: 7. The idea that evolution is a sufficient theory to explain the origin and development of all living things. Such an idea exalts evolution from a limited scientific theory, to a religion or a substitute for religion. “Now Catholic theologians and philosophers, whose grave duty it is to defend natural and supernatural truth and instill it in the hearts of men, cannot afford to ignore or neglect these more or less erroneous opinions.” (Humani Generis, n. 9)
R. Sungenis: So again we see the theistic evolutionists make up the rules as they go along. It’s not really a theory of evolution any longer, but a metastasized hodge-podge of ideas that tries to coalesce secular scientific ideas with theological ideas, but it is a complete failure.
R. Conte: 8. Since the theory of evolution is not one theory, but exists in many different variations and is subject to on-going revision, there may be other aspects of the theory that offend against the truths of the Christian faith.
R. Sungenis: Yes, indeed.
R. Conte: III. What should Catholics believe about Adam and Eve?
1. Adam and Eve are two real human persons, who existed at the beginning of human history.
R. Sungenis: Granted, but Mr. Conte hasn’t explained how that could happen if polygenism is not permissible. He also hasn’t shown any official Church teaching were such an idea is explained.
R. Conte: 2. Adam and Eve were each created by God, miraculously. Their bodies were created from the dust of the earth, either (a) through a sudden miracle, or (b) through a long process that included evolution, as well as Providence, and, at times, God's extraordinary intervention. In either case, we must also believe that Adam and Eve were miraculously given an immortal soul with freewill and the light of reason.
R. Sungenis: What puzzles me is, if Mr. Conte believes that Adam and Eve were brought here “miraculously,” then why does he insist that the other events of Genesis 1 are non-miraculous? If he doesn’t believe that the miraculous creation Adam and Eve is difficult to believe in light of the refusal of secular science to accept such a notion, then why is the miraculous creation of the plants on the third day and the sun and stars on the fourth day so out of the question for him? At the least he should allow miraculous creation as the first interpretation, since an ex nihilo and immediate creation of all these things is the face value reading of Genesis 1. The problem is that Mr. Conte believes he MUST accept the mechanics of secular evolution, and that restriction comes from his mistaken notion that he stated at the beginning of his essay – “Some portions of the theory of evolution have been proven to such an extent that they can be called scientific fact.” No, he is quite incorrect. There is no proof and there are no facts for evolution. If Mr. Conte could provide just one indisputable and unquestionable proof, I would immediately reject every objection I have ever made to evolution. Let’s see if Mr. Conte will provide us with that proof.
R. Conte: 3. Adam and Eve each had original innocence. They were created by God with sanctifying grace from the first moment of each one's life (either at the moment of sudden miraculous creation of each one's body, or at the moment of conception). And that each had neither original sin nor personal sin, until each one fell from grace.
R. Sungenis: Yes, indeed.
R. Conte: 4. Adam and Eve each fell from grace by committing a mortal sin of deliberate disobedience to God. (For Adam and Eve before the Fall from grace, any sin would be a mortal sin.)
R. Sungenis: Yes.
R. Conte: 5. We are the descendents of Adam and Eve, physically and spiritually, and we have inherited the effects of original sin, in body and soul, as a result of their fall from grace.
R. Sungenis: Yes. And now it’s time to interpret Genesis 1 as literally as Mr. Conte wants to interpret Genesis 2 and 3.