CREATION VS. EVOLUTION
The Alleged Contradiction
Many critics of Holy Scripture point out that the scientific theory of evolution, which they claim is a fairly established fact, contradicts the story of creation given in the first two chapters of Genesis. For example, Holy Scripture describes the various species of plants, animals, and even man, as being created by God directly out of inanimate matter: "Let the earth bring forth the green herb, and such as may seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after its kind..." (Gen 1:11); "Let the waters bring forth the creeping creature having life, and the fowl that may fly over the earth... And God created the great whales, and every living and moving creature, which the waters brought forth, according to their kinds, and every winged fowl according to its kind." (Gen 1:20, 21); "Let the earth bring forth the living creature in its kind, cattle and creeping things, and beasts of the earth..." (Gen 1:24); "And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth: and breathed into his face the breath of life..." (Gen 2:7). On the contrary, Science says that life originated from inorganic matter by a purely natural process, and that the various complex species of organisms all descended from more primitive and simpler forms of organisms, which in turn descended from still more primitive and simpler organisms, and so on, down to the last universal common ancestor (LUCA)
Phlogenetic Tree of Life
By John D. Croft / Conquistador
CC BY-SA 3.0 License: commons.wikimedia.org
Resolution of the Alleged Contradiction
Holy Scripture is written in the language of ordinary man, and uses imagery that is familiar to the common folk. It is not the purpose of Holy Scripture to teach Science, but to provide the ordinary man with the knowledge he or she needs for salvation. Since the Holy Scripture is written by Divine Inspiration and its principal author is God, it teaches solidly and infallibly what God wants to reveal for the sake of our salvation (Cf. Dei Verbum, Ch. III, #11). Now, the knowledge of how the various species of living things were formed – whether it be by biological evolution, by direct formation from inorganic materials, or by sequential creation out of nothing – is not strictly necessary for salvation. Therefore, whatever is stated in the Bible regarding the process by which creatures appeared on earth, is not really protected by Divine Inspiration. The important truth revealed and protected by Divine Inspiration – the infallible truth that we must believe – is that God is behind the formation of the world and of everything in it. That means, nothing in the world really happened by chance. The origin of life was not by chance, and the processes of evolution – if evolution occurred – was directed by God and not by chance. Biological events, such as genetic mutation, may appear as random and chance-events to us only because we do not know all the causes that bring about an event. But to God, who knows all the causes at work in the world, nothing happens by chance.
Since the purpose of Holy Scripture is not to teach Science, it is futile to look in Holy Scripture for anything that would prove or disprove evolution. Evolution is a theory about the natural world. Therefore it should be evaluated in its own terms – by philosophy and science, but not by theology.
Since this is a website on theology, the above comments should be sufficient to dismiss any allegation about a conflict between science and faith. However, the discussions in the links provided below regarding the origin of life and the theory of evolution are offered to help the interested reader to be familiar with the concepts and arguments surrounding the claim, made by many scientists and scholars today, that life on earth originated purely by chance, and that the evolution of species is now an established fact. Both claims are bogus. The links below should help anyone, who happens to be in a controversy, to carry on the dialogue and not be left out of the discussion regarding this important subject.