Pontifical academy ponders evolution of mankind

The evolutionary laws of heredity and genetic mutation pose no conflict to the Catholic faith, the chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences said during a meeting held to discuss the evolution of mankind.

However, said Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the beginning of the universe — “the transition from nothing to being” — is not a mutation, because God is the first cause of creation and being.

“In this first transcendent origin of the human being we should in fact admit the direct participation of God,” he said.

In a statement before the meeting, Bishop Sanchez, Cardinal Roger Etchegaray, and Henry de Lumley, the director of the Institute of Human Paleontology in Paris, sketched a timeline for the evolution of human beings.

“Two and a half million years ago, when hominids manufactured stone tools, converting the hand in the tool of tools, and appeared to acquire articulated language, they were already fully human and capable of conceptual thought and moral decisions,” they said.

“Nine billion years went by between the Big Bang and the formation of a primitive lifeless ocean on planet Earth, then another 4 billion years passed by between this primitive ocean and Man, with 100 billion brain cells and the ability to question his role in the History of the Universe and of Life and to reconstruct his own history.

“This emerging quality of the human being becomes apparent in the progressive implementation and awareness of the differences between being and not being, good and evil, right and wrong, justice and injustice, love and hate; thus emerge the differences in the human practices that the philosopher attributes to the various theoretical, ethical and political sciences.

“Indeed,” they said, “since man has become a human being (genus homo), there is a sphere of being that each man finds in himself right from his mother’s womb and in himself and out of himself starting from birth.”

Monsignor Fiorenzo Facchini, an anthropologist and paleontologist at the meeting, said that rather than picturing human evolution as humans descending from the apes, humans ascended or rose up from the animal kingdom to a higher level, thanks to the hand of God.


Pontifical Academy of Sciences

Catholic News Service

Image: Truthnet

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