Catholic Q&A

Is not the creation of heaven and earth as described in the Bible inconsistent with the theory of evolution?

As you rightly said, the very first book of the Holy Bible which is the book of Genesis, describes how God created heaven and earth. It is stated that God created light on the first day and the sky and waters on the second. These are followed by the third and fourth days, after which he created human beings on the sixth day. This is a myth of people of the past, and not the way modern natural science describes it.

However, modern biblical studies clearly reveal that the Bible never speaks of the truths of natural sciences, but rather of the truths of faith. People of those times who wrote the Bible, described their faith on the basis of the thinking that existed in their time. Hence, arriving at conclusions related to natural science on the basis of words written in the Bible, is not correct. Also, we cannot either agree or disagree with research results of natural science that stem from the Bible.

Genesis declares that God is the creator of the world. As I stated earlier, when human beings awoke to the wonder that they were born into this world, they had no choice but to enquire as to why they lived here, and what meaning did their lives here have.

And the authors of the Bible, feeling that God was the one who created them and that they were living in order to respond to God’s love, expressed their faith by using the myth of creation. Hence, what is important for us is to read the truths concerning the essence of human life, within the mythical account.

However, in the days when biblical studies were not yet well developed, even the heliocentric theory of Galileo was considered as denying the truths of the Bible. Have you heard of a person named Teilhard de Chardin? He was an archaeologist who discovered the Peking Man and a proponent of evolution, but he was also a Catholic priest. On observing that the fossils of several creatures excavated so far progressed from the lower to the higher, he could not doubt the fact that life was driven by the law of evolution, and he believed that human beings too were gradually prepared and born in the process of evolution of living beings. Actually however, at that time Teilhard de Chardin’s way of thinking was viewed by the Catholic Church with dubious eyes, as a perilous idea. Fortunately though in the present-day world his great insight and deep faith have come to be highly valued, both within and outside the Church.

As Teilhard de Chardin states, when we consider the process spanning billions of years wherein living beings arose from inanimate objects, gradually evolved into higher life forms, and finally gave rise to the birth of the spirit, we find we have no choice but to sense therein the mystery of life, a mystery that far transcends all human knowledge. Unless we explain all this as a coincidence, I find that far from denying God’s existence, I perceive the presence of the Creator behind it all. I also have no doubts at all about evolution, and that is the reason why I believe in God, the Creator of heaven and earth.

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