Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a scientific mediocrity who knew almost nothing of the emerging science of genetics being developed by the Augustinian friar, Gregor Mendel (1822-1884). For Darwin, cells were blobs of protoplasm easily altered by environmental conditions. Genetics would expose the naiveté of his primitive hypothesis, leading to the more sophisticated but equally unbelievable neo-Darwinian “synthesis.” Given the theory’s provenance in the intellectual crudities of 19th-century skepticism and materialism, one would think that Catholics would view it with the incredulity it deserves, holding it to the rigorous standards of proof that are supposed to apply to the sciences.
With the rise of Modernism in the Church, however, came the rise of evolutionary thinking in theology, led by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, neo-Modernism’s preeminent evolutionary mountebank (implicated in the Piltdown Man hoax) whose writings were twice condemned by the Holy Office. Only weeks before the commencement of the Second Vatican Council, the Holy Office under John XXIII issued this monitum concerning Teilhard’s writings:
… it is sufficiently clear that the above-mentioned works abound in such ambiguities and indeed even serious errors, as to offend Catholic doctrine.
For this reason, the most eminent and most revered Fathers of the Holy Office exhort all Ordinaries as well as the superiors of Religious institutes, rectors of seminaries and presidents of universities, effectively to protect the minds, particularly of the youth, against the dangers presented by the works of Fr. Teilhard de Chardin and of his followers.
It is the burden of this series to show that, despite all protestations of orthodoxy, the attempted reconciliation of the Faith with the putative “discoveries” of evolutionists has inevitably eroded confidence in the de fide teaching on Creation, the basic elements of historical truth indispensable to the integrity of the Genesis account, and thus the foundation of the dogma of Original Sin.
As we shall see here, the constituency in the Church that can fairly be called neo-Catholic (a form of “conservative” Catholicism with liberal features akin to political neo-conservatism) has joined the neo-Modernists in pronouncing the death of the traditional account of the Fall. Bereft of the guidance of the Magisterium for an alternative account, they devise their own versions of how, in a world in which men evolved from ape-like ancestors, Original Sin could have been transmitted to the entire human race by one man, and how all humanity could have descended from two first parents.
Unproven, untestable, unrepeatable, unverifiable and therefore unscientific, yet uncontainable in its pretensions, neo-Darwinism is another Trojan Horse in the City of God. But our neo-Catholic brethren, always eager to disparage “Catholic fundamentalism,” have not hesitated to open the horse’s belly and invite what is inside to wreak havoc in the Church. They aid and abet the conquering march of a pseudoscience with no claim on reason because it is contrary to reason—indeed laughable in many of its preposterous contentions. It is long past time for Catholics to unite in opposing a materialist superstition masquerading as an empirical science.
The Evolutionary Superstition
The essence of the textbook theory of evolution is that the infinite variety of life is the result of fortuitous and unguided incremental changes in matter over vast amounts of time, beginning with lifeless molecules. The proposed mechanism for the evolutionary progress of molecules to men is itself constantly evolving to avoid falsification.
The innumerable transitional forms preceding emerging new species that Darwin expected the fossil record to show were never forthcoming, even though evolution by small mutations conserved by natural selection would logically produce vastly more transitional than terminal forms. Quite to the contrary, the “Cambrian explosion,” in which basic body plans of the animal phyla appear abruptly in the fossil record without prior incipient stages, confounds evolutionists to this day, despite their flimsy attempts to explain away this massive embarrassment for their beloved theory.
Pierre-Paul Grassé, the eminent French evolutionary zoologist and one-time President of the French Academy of Sciences, admitted in 1977 that:
The lack of concrete evidence relative to the ‘heyday’ of evolution [the Cambrian explosion] seriously impairs any transformist theory… a shadow is cast over the genesis [!] of the fundamental structural plans and we are unable to eliminate it…. The lack of direct evidence leads to the formulation of pure conjectures as to the genesis of the phyla; we do not even have a basis to determine the extent to which these opinions are correct.
Concerning the Cambrian explosion, the Chinese paleontologist Jun-Yuan Chen, an expert in the Cambrian shale at Chengjiang, China, remarked: “In China we can criticize Darwin, but not the government; in America, you can criticize the government, but not Darwin.” The same is true within the post-conciliar Church: all are free to engage in “higher criticism” of Sacred Scripture with voluptuous abandon, but thunderous mockery and objurgation greet those few hardy souls who dare to utter a peep against Sacred Evolution.
Yet as neo-Catholics kowtow to neo-Darwinism’s “synthetic model” of “natural selection” conserving a gradual accumulation of random genetic changes, that model is under increasing pressure from revisionists within the evolution establishment who know a loser when they see one. As early as 1980 the late Stephen Jay Gould of Harvard, then the world’s most renowned evolutionist, reluctantly conceded that it would seem that model “as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy.” It was Gould who posed an obvious question “fundamentalist” critics of evolution have been asking for decades: “Of what possible use are the imperfect incipient stages of useful structures? What good is half a jaw or half a wing?” And it was he who famously admitted what was always evident: “the fossil record contains precious little in the way of intermediate forms; transitions between major groups are characteristically abrupt.”
In an attempt to keep Darwinism alive, neo-Darwinians have grafted various ad hoc hypotheses onto Darwin’s creaky old theory, including “genetic drift,” Gould-Eldredge’s “punctuated equilibrium” (abrupt mutational leaps, conveniently bypassing fossilized intermediates), genetic recombination, Gould-Lewontin’s “spandrels” hypothesis, and so forth. The basic idea, however, remains absurd: where once there was no life, blind natural processes have produced a world filled with millions of living species of staggering complexity even at their most elemental level.
Evolution’s credibility problem begins at the very beginning of evolutionary time: protein synthesis is impossible without the chromosomal DNA “code,” but DNA depends on proteins for its tightly coiled structure, self-repair, and the direction of protein synthesis itself—a classic chicken-and-egg dilemma. Worse, in a cell the DNA code imparts information to RNA for the assembly of proteins by a process called transcription. But how did DNA “evolve” this function without RNA already being present to serve as the transcript, and how did RNA arise without its DNA complement, especially in view of RNA’s unstable nature? Then there is the question how the DNA code, written in what Gould called “machine language,” was compiled in the first place.
In The Origins of Life: A New View (p. 294), evolutionary revisionist Stuart Kaufman states the obvious about this fundamental biogenetic system: “Its emergence seems to require its prior existence.” Undaunted by the obvious—as evolutionists always are—Kaufman proposes a “new view” of the “self-organization” of polymeric molecules even more implausible than the previous “new views.” In evolution theory what Kaufman calls an “elegant body of ideas” keeps the show going, even if observation or experiment cannot confirm them.
And what of the building block of animal life, the eukaryotic cell? Evolutionists have no credible explanation for how mindless processes could produce a biological world-within-a-world consisting of an outer membrane, cytoplasm, organelles, an intricate folded reticulum and a nucleus, surrounded by its own membrane, packed with chromosomal DNA that imparts genetic instructions to RNA for protein assembly by ribosomes, which execute the RNA instructions and then protect the manufactured protein products with tiny vesicles transported to the Golgi apparatus for final processing. Mitochondria, organelles of incredible complexity with their own DNA, power cellular activity governed by complex and co-dependent chemical reactions. Destroy or damage any of these interdependent components and a cell ceases to function properly or dies. This is not even to discuss the impossibly intricate process of cell division by meiosis (for sexual reproduction) and mitosis (for building up and repairing tissues) or the mind-boggling ability of cells to differentiate into specialized functions based on their locations in an organism.
As to the origin of the first cell, evolutionists—utterly stumped—offer feeble, indemonstrable and fantastical speculations, including magical self-assembly of cells atop crystals and the seeding of the planet with preexisting life delivered from outer space by meteoroids and asteroids. Yet, confronted with their inability to explain the emergence of even one functioning cell without a guided process—indeed even with a guided process under controlled laboratory conditions—evolutionists confidently assure us that they have explained a world filled with organisms composed of billions and trillions of cells interacting precisely as required for life. And in response to every objection evolutionists provide the same non-reply: that we cannot explain exactly how evolution happened does not mean it did not happen, for evolution is a fact and someday we will discover the evolutionary explanation. Meanwhile, “elegant ideas” fill massive gaps that would result in the abandonment of any other scientific theory.
But evolution is not a scientific theory, even though it has arrogated to itself the dignity of a testable empirical proposition. A theory that can never be falsified because it simply concocts a new hypothesis to save itself is not science but superstition. The biochemist and Nobel laureate Ernst Chain, an Orthodox Jew, was thus openly contemptuous of Darwinian evolution: “I would rather believe in fairies than in such wild speculation.” His son Benjamin related that “There is no doubt that he did not like the theory of evolution by natural selection—and he disliked theories in general, and more especially when they assumed the form of dogma. He also felt that evolution was not really a part of science, since it was, for the most part, not amenable to experimentation…”
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Splitting the Difference with the Zeitgeist
Would that our neo-Catholic friends exhibited such healthy skepticism about evolution’s scientific pretensions. Instead, confronted with the nonsensical claim that non-life gave rise to a world filled with living creatures through the blind operation of natural processes—the “Blind Watchmaker” of Dawkins’s manifesto—the neo-Catholic obligingly posits “theistic evolution,” by which God intervened at each stage to bring the “gradual development” of life to the next level.
But if evolution would be impossible without such hidden divine interventions, why not simply accept what the fossil record shows and Genesis recounts: immediate divine creation of living things according to kind? The dictates of reason hardly compel us to do otherwise. On the contrary, the fossil evidence speaks against evolution, as Gould implicitly conceded. No one has better expressed the folly of “theistic evolution” than the great Wolfgang Smith, an accomplished scientist and philosopher who graduated from Cornell at the age of 18 with majors in mathematics, physics and philosophy and earned a Ph.D. in mathematics at Columbia. Smith observes that “theistic evolution” disserves the Church by:
bringing God into the picture precisely as a kind of deus ex machina commissioned to make Darwinian evolution work. Instead of letting the Darwinist hypothesis fail on scientific grounds, it seeks to bolster that now faltering theory by the ad hoc postulate of divine intervention, for which, to put it mildly, there is not a shred of theological rationale. In a word: theistic evolutionism compounds bad science with spurious theology… Is it not height of folly, on the part of Christian apologists, to bolster the atheistic and now discredited hypothesis through the no less gratuitous postulate that God steps in to consummate the anti-God scenario? One is hard pressed to name a doctrine as flagrantly inane!
Yet, having posited a multiplication of miracles to make evolution plausible, neo-Catholic evolutionists mock fellow Catholics for “fundamentalism” in rejecting “evolutionary science”—having just rejected it themselves by positing divine intervention! Here, as in so many other ways, the neo-Catholic attempts to appear reasonable by splitting the difference with the Zeitgeist. He has been cowed by a pseudoscience that employs certain scientific techniques, to be sure, but only to serve an absolutely non-negotiable a priori conclusion: there is no Creator. The ideological blinders must never come off. As Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the structure of DNA, put it: “Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.” In other words: don’t believe your lying eyes. And this, they tell us, is science.
Revelation, the Fathers and the Magisterium on the Origin of Species
According to what theologians call “the analogy of faith,” Scripture cannot contradict itself if read as an integral whole, with obvious metaphorical expressions being distinguished from literal facts. The literal truth of the Genesis account involves the direct creation of corporeal creatures by God according to kind, culminating in the creation of Adam and Eve. Scripture and its traditional interpretation by the Magisterium determine the meaning of the account, not secular science— especially not a pseudoscience infested by atheist demagogues promoting the New Atheism.
This does not mean a blind fideism that would deny the true data of reason. The Church has nothing to fear from authentic scientific discoveries because the Faith and right reason are never in conflict. The theory of evolution, however, is readily shown to be contrary to reason as well as the physical evidence. Thus its patently nonsensical claims hardly compel modification of the traditional Catholic view of the Genesis account in light of Scripture and Sacred Tradition:
We firmly believe and confess without reservation that there is only one true God… the creator of all things, visible and invisible, spiritual and corporeal, who by his almighty power from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing (ex nihilo), both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then the human creature, who, as it were, shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body.
Thus declared the Fourth Lateran Council (1213-1215) in a way that pertains to the infallible Magisterium. The creation of all things by God ex nihilo—out of nothing—is a dogma of the Faith, even if there is room for interpretation as to how many of the basic kinds of corporeal creatures God created while allowing variation or adaptation within kinds to provide the full diversity of life: “And God created… every living and moving creature… according to its kind (Gen. 1:21).”
The Catholic dogma of creation ex nihilo cannot be reduced to an empty formula by supposing that God created only certain primordial conditions from which “every living and moving creature” arose through some natural process of evolution without further acts of divine creation. There is not a trace in the Genesis account or anywhere else in Holy Scripture, nor in the Church Fathers, of this sort of macro-evolutionary “transformism”—i.e., one species giving rise to another gradually over eons, or the “molecules to man” hypothesis. As for the creation of man, “[t]here is no place in Holy Scripture that would indicate or allude to the fact that man is of animal origin.” All scriptural references “point towards God immediately molding man from clay.” If God had “created” by means of evolution, it is inconceivable that neither Holy Scripture nor the Patristic teaching on its interpretation would fail to make the least mention of it. Why would God conceal this alleged historical and scientific reality from every one of the inspired authors, who could certainly have presented it in popular language?
Nor can Saint Augustine be enlisted as a proto-evolutionist, as certain Catholic evolutionists would have it according to a superficial and abusive interpretation of his notion of “rational seeds” (rationes seminales). Augustine saw these rational seeds as merely the causal principles by which the original kinds continued to exist, move and generate offspring according to kind, as subsistent beings, following their creation. He held, as did the other Fathers, that God created all the kinds at once (simul)—just as Lateran IV would affirm dogmatically nine centuries later:
Perhaps we ought not to think of these creatures at the moment they were produced [my emphasis] as subject to the processes of nature which we now observe in them, but rather as under the wonderful and unutterable power of the Wisdom of God, which reaches from end to end mightily and governs all graciously. For this power of Divine Wisdom does not reach by stages or arrive by steps. It was just as easy, then, for God to create everything as it is for Wisdom to exercise this mighty power.
For through Wisdom all things were made, and the motion we now see in creatures, measured by the lapse of time, as each one fulfills its proper function, comes to creatures from those causal reasons implanted in them [my emphasis], which God scattered as seeds at the moment of creation when He spoke and they were made, He commanded and they were created.
Creation, therefore, did not take place slowly [my emphasis] in order that a slow development might be implanted in those things that are slow by nature; nor were the ages established at plodding pace at which they now pass. Time brings about the development of these creatures according to the laws of their numbers, but there was no passage of time when they received these laws at creation.
Augustine, in fact, maintained that Creation occurred in an instant and that the six-day demarcation in the Genesis account is merely an aid provided by the inspired author to facilitate an understanding of how “God created all things together,” including the six days themselves. Moreover, Augustine, along with the other Fathers, would have regarded as rank heresy the claim that man is descended from beasts. He affirmed without question that man was “formed from the slime, and while he slept a woman had been made for him from his side…”
Here it must be noted that the Magisterium does not strictly impose a belief in “literal six-day creation” or a particular age of the Earth, but rather permits the opinion that the word “day” [yôm] in the Genesis account could represent “a certain space of time” (temporis spatio). Further, creation “at once” (simul) does not specify how long “a space of time” was involved in Creation. To say, for example, that “all the products were manufactured at once” is not to say that they were all manufactured instantaneously or in any particular span of time. On the other hand, this limited interpretational latitude provides no foundation for the claim that molecules evolved into men over billions of years.
By the late 19th century Darwinism was on its conquering march in society, and by the turn of the 20th century it had wormed its way into Modernist theology. The Magisterium responded vigorously to the threat with a series of decisions by the Pontifical Biblical Commission, then an arm of the papal Magisterium to which, Pope Saint Pius X insisted, “all are bound in conscience to submit…” In 1907, following decisions of the Commission defending aspects of the inspired and historical character of the Scriptural narrative then under attack by Modernist exegetes, the Holy Office under Pius X issued the landmark decree Lamentabili, enumerating and condemning the errors of Modernism, including the following condemned proposition: “Scientific progress demands that the concepts of Christian doctrine concerning God, creation, revelation, the Person of the Incarnate Word, and Redemption be reformed.”
Then, in 1909, the Commission issued a decision answering NO to this question: “Is it possible… to call in question the literal and historical meaning [of the Genesis account] where there is question of facts narrated in these same chapters which pertain to the foundations of the Christian religion….” Among these facts, said the Commission, are “the special creation of man; the formation of the first woman from the first man.”
I quite agree with Father Michael Chaberek, O.P. whose recently published definitive study of the history of the Church’s approach to evolutionism concludes: “The principle of historical and literal exegesis, applied to the origin of species and mankind, has caused insurmountable obstacles for the theistic theory of evolution, which turned out to contradict the natural sense of the words of Holy Scripture. One may therefore say that the decrees [of the Pontifical Biblical Commission] from the years 1905-1909, and especially the last one (on the historical character of Genesis 1-3), have ruled out biological macroevolution…”
Concerning the creation of Eve ex Adamo, which strictly precludes her prior evolution from “hominids,” as Father Brian Harrison has shown, this is an infallible teaching of the universal ordinary Magisterium—a doctrine the Church has always held. Thus Pope Leo XIII in his encyclical on marriage, Arcanum (1880), declared as follows regarding “the never-interrupted doctrine of the Church” on the origin of marriage:
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 having 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. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race, from whom it might be propagated and preserved by an unfailing fruitfulness throughout all futurity of time [my emphasis].
With good reason, then, did St. Pius X identify the special creation of Adam and the creation of Eve from Adam as facts at the foundations of the Faith. For one thing, to deny these facts leads naturally to polygenism, the claim that the human race is descended from a group of first humans who evolved from “hominids” (aka “hominims”). Polygenism cannot be reconciled with Genesis unless Genesis is reduced to a fable—a matter the next article in this series will consider at length in light of the teaching of Pius XII in Humani generis.
Moreover, acceptance of neo-Darwinian evolution by Catholics would require as well the acceptance of the claim that, for hundreds of millions of years before Adam and Eve were living in Paradise, the world was riven by death, disease and natural disasters driving the process of “natural selection.” Paradise too must go out the window for the sake of evolution, along with the preternatural gifts of our first parents, including their freedom from disease and defect and their bodily immortality, all lost with the Fall. Indeed, a Catholic evolutionist would have to hold that the entire Genesis account of the Creation and the Fall, from beginning to end, is but a mythical story and that the lot of the human species actually improved after the Fall, owing to continuing evolution and the development of the use of fire, tools, agriculture and civilization in general. For this reason alone, the Genesis account and the neo-Darwinian account are radically irreconcilable.
Neo-Modernism, explains the late Father John A. Hardon, S.J. in his monumental Modern Catholic Dictionary, “attempts to reconcile modern science and philosophy at the expense of the integrity of the Catholic faith. It has its roots in the Modernism condemned by Pope St. Pius X.”  As this series will demonstrate, neo-Catholic evolutionists substantially agree with neo-Modernists in arguing for a revision of the Church’s teaching on creation to accommodate evolution, ridiculing any opposition to the attempt as “fundamentalism.” They flagrantly abuse the limited freedom of opinion Pius XII allowed in this area.
Next: Part II: The Neo-Catholic Planet of the Apes
This series of articles is adapted from an essay that first appeared in The Remnant in May 2015.
Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker (1996), p. 10.
“Warning Concerning the Writings of Teilhard de Chardin,” Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, June 30, 1962.
Grassé, Evolution of Living Organisms, pp. 17, 31. Emphasis mine, here and throughout unless otherwise indicated.
Gould, “Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?” Paleobiology, 6, 1980, p. 120.
 (Gould, “The Return of the Hopeful Monsters”; accessed @ www.darwiniana.t ripod.com/ gould_n _86 _6_22-30.html.
 bid., p. 121.
Cf. Stephen C. Meyer, Darwin’s Doubt, pp. 293-300.
Clark, The Life of Ernst Chain, Kindle ed., 2775, 2788-2790.
Wolfgang Smith, Theistic Evolution: the Teilhardian Heresy, p. 5.
In Stephen J. Meyer, Signature in the Cell, p. 20.
Denizinger (DZ), 43rd ed., § 800.
Michael Chaberek, O.P., Catholicism and Evolution (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015), p. 156 & n. 14.
Augustine, The Literal Meaning of Genesis, Vol. 1, Bk. 4, Ch. 33 (New York: Paulist, Press, 1982), pp. 141-142. Paragraph breaks added.
Ibid., p. 142.
Ibid., Bk. 6, Ch. 2, p. 178.
Cf. DZ § 3519.
Praestantia Scripturae Sacrae (1907) @ w2.vatican.va: “we declare and expressly decree that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Pontifical Biblical Commission, either those until now promulgated, or those to be promulgated in the future, in the same manner as to decrees of the Sacred Congregations regarding doctrine approved by the Pontiffs” (dichiariamo ed espressamente decretiamo che tutti sono tenuti in coscienza a sottomettersi alle decisioni del Pontiqwficio Consiglio Biblico, sia a quelle finora già emanate, sia a quelle che saranno emanate nel futuro allo stesso modo che ai decreti delle sacre Congregazioni riguardanti la dottrina approvati dal Pontefice).
DZ § 3464.
DZ § 3514.
Chaberek, op. cit., p. 157.
Harrison, “Did the Human Body Evolve Naturally,” Living Tradition, Jan.-Mar. 1998, No. 73-74; accessed @ http://www.rtforum.org/lt/lt73.html.
Hardin, Modern Catholic Dictionary online @ http://www.therealpresence.org/dictionary/adict.htm