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Religious Responses to the Science of Human Evolution

The evolutionary description of human origins may be seen as a challenge to biblical literalism and as challenge to some definitions of human dignity.See Darwin’s challenge to theological positions, Early Conflicts Over Darwinism, and the caricature - Darwin v. Christianity.Biblical-literalist Christians, scientific creationists and the great majority of orthodox Muslims reject the evolutionary view.See God, Humanity and the Cosmos pp325-26

The Catholic Church distinguishes between the evolution of the body and the special creation of the soul. Jones summarises the Catholic position by reference to Humani Generis, the encyclical of Pius XII, arguing that the Catholic Church does not forbid the theory of evolution as an explanation of the origin of the human body, but rejects the notion that the soul was not created directly by God.Jones, D, Can Catholics Believe in Evolution (London, CTS, 1991) pp18-19This kind of language, however, poses problems in the debate with science because it smacks of vitalism, the incorporation of an ingredient in our natures which is not subject to scientific test.

In this account we have preferred to speak of a spiritual aspect to human existence. We have, in effect, chosen to use ‘soul’ as an adjective akin to ‘spiritual’, an attribute of a living person, rather than ‘soul’ as a noun suggesting a separate entity.See also God, Humanity and the Cosmos pp182-84 on the soul.

To explore this area further see humans as made in the image of God and the doctrine of the Fall.

Email link | Feedback | Contributed by: Dr. Christopher Southgate and Dr. Michael Robert Negus
Source: God, Humanity and the Cosmos  (T&T Clark, 1999)

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