The Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the Crisis of Faith
The purpose of this paper is to briefly explain the history and mission of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) and to demonstrate that the Academy has deviated from its proper mission and contributed in no small measure to the current crisis of faith in the Catholic Church. Most of the reference source information given here is available on
The Pontifical Academy of Sciences (PAS) had its origin in the Academy of Lynxes established in 1603 under the patronage of Pope Clement VIII. It was later recreated by Blessed Pope Pius IX in 1847 as the Pontifical Academy of the New Lynxes. It was further reorganized in 1936 by Pius XI and given its present name. The Academy is described as a valuable source of objective scientific information which is made available to the Holy See and to the international scientific community. Its goal sounds admirable: “The promotion of the progress of the mathematical, physical and natural sciences, and the study of related epistemological questions and issues.”
Candidates for membership are chosen by the Academy and are appointed for life by sovereign act of the Holy Father. The Director of the Vatican Observatory, the Director of the Astrophysical Laboratory of the Vatican Observatory, the Prefect of the Vatican Library and the Prefect of the Secret Archives of the Vatican, are all members pro tempore and enjoy the same rights and perform the same functions as the Pontifical Academicians. The Academy presently has about 86 members, 30 of whom are Nobel Prize winners, and it seems that most members are not Catholics.
The disciplines involved are sub-divided into nine fields: physics and related disciplines, astronomy, chemistry, the earth and environmental sciences, mathematics, the applied sciences, the philosophy and history of sciences, and the life sciences (i.e., botany, agronomy, zoology, genetics, molecular biology, biochemistry, the neurosciences, and surgery).
As the PAS website explains, “On occasion of numerous addresses and messages directed towards the Academy by five pontiffs, the Church has been able to re-propose the meaning of the relationship between faith and reason, between science and wisdom, and between love for truth and the search for God.” We know there is no conflict between science per se and theology because the Creator of the Universe is also the principal author of the Bible. It is interesting to recall that Pope Pius XII’s address to the PAS on Nov 30, 1941, was “dedicated to a long and profound reflection on the position of man in relation to the Creation and God.” Pope John XXIII’s speech to the PAS in 1961 recalled that “science is directed above all else towards the development and growth of the personality of man and the glorification of God the Creator.”
Many years ago I wrote to Archbishop Luigi Barbarito, who was then the Apostolic Pro-Nuncio based in Canberra, Australia, and I asked him if he would explain the official standing of the PAS within the Catholic Church. In his reply letter to me, he made the following comment: “About this body I would say that it has no authority in matters of faith and doctrine and expresses only the views of its own members who belong to different religious beliefs.”
In fact, the Academy is also open to those who profess no religious beliefs. The famous atheist, Stephen Hawking, is an Academician. If an atheist like him and an agnostic like the physicist Paul Davies are welcome to outline their views for the edification of the Pope and other members of the Magisterium, one would think that eminently qualified Catholic scientists or theologians who reject evolution would also be invited.
The idea of a Pontifical Academy of Sciences is praiseworthy but it contains inherent strengths and weaknesses. On one hand, the gaining of information from outstanding scientists and scholars can help Catholics to keep abreast of the latest scientific discoveries and any possible impact on doctrinal teachings. For example, the recent discovery that use of adult stem cells can heal serious ailments is wonderful news but the use of embryonic stem cells is bad news indeed, for they do not provide a cure, and the associated deaths of countless tiny human beings is objectively wrong.
On the other hand, there is the possibility of theological error masquerading under the guise of science. As shocking as it may sound, I submit that there is a strong bias at work within the Academy which in its practical effect is opposed to official Catholic teachings concerning Origins. I contend that the heavily pro-evolution stance of the PAS has resulted in materialistic views being aired at PAS conferences and dissenting doctrinal views also being aired at such conferences.
Let us recall a most significant point made by Pope John Paul II in his speech to the PAS on the occasion of the Galileo Commission conclusion (Oct 31, 1992):
What is important in a scientific or philosophic theory is above all that it should be true or, at least seriously and solidly grounded. … the purpose of your Academy is precisely to discern and to make known, in the present state of science and within its proper limits, what can be regarded as an acquired truth or at least as enjoying such a degree of probability that it would be imprudent and unreasonable to reject it.
The phrase “within its proper limits” ought to be understood as being within the limits laid down by the Magisterium and the teachings already declared as true in Catholic Tradition. The Academy is not a teaching arm of the Magisterium and it should not be allowed unilaterally to act as though it were. The true idea of “proper limits” is that the natural sciences fulfill their proper role when performing harmoniously with truth known from theology and philosophy.
The PAS is associated with the Pennsylvania-based John Templeton Foundation and they conduct joint conferences. This Foundation regards religion as almost any view which recognizes that there is a spiritual dimension to life in addition to the realm of matter. Unfortunately, almost any view from pantheism to traditional Catholic theology can fit within such a broad category. Instituted by the multi-millionaire financier John Templeton (now aged in his nineties), this Foundation gives away about $40 million dollars annually to causes it supports. Several years ago Paul Davies was awarded the Templeton Prize for Religion, as was Fr Stanley Jaki back in the late 1980s. The one million dollars prize money enabled Davies to devote himself entirely to research and traveling the world promoting his agnostic oriented scientific views, including speaking at an Academy conference. It seems unlikely that anything will be awarded to scientists or theologians who oppose evolution and believe instead in Special Creation!
With respect to matters relating to Origins, I submit that the PAS has lost its way and gone seriously astray from its original goal and has neglected Church teachings known from antiquity concerning the creation of human beings.
Two aspects stand out within the modern PAS position on Origins:
When one looks at PAS Origins conferences, it is obvious that pro-evolution themes feature strongly. The Academy provides a vehicle for dissemination of evolutionary views, but wrapped in an aura of respectability as a scientific body which is highly regarded by each reigning Pontiff. I contend that the mostly non-Catholic Academy, through its prestigious position, has for many decades asserted effective and largely unchallenged domination of what is being taught regarding creation/evolution in Catholic centers of learning worldwide. Who dares oppose the Academy?
Why does the PAS have a pro-evolution stance when macroevolution has been shown to be impossible? Amazingly, it seems that no one among the PAS experts has even bothered to define exactly what they mean by the term “evolution”! Unless succinctly defined, the idea of evolution remains vague and endlessly elastic, giving rise to deep confusion. Biological evolution can be defined succinctly as “the natural gaining of higher genetic information not possessed by one’s ancestors.” This set of words can be formulated differently but the essential point is this:
Evolution is not simply change over time; variation can only occur within each original kind of life form. Thus, change is only possible within kind, never beyond kind. Evolution is not natural selection, which at best only conserves what is already there. Genetic information can be lost over time but creatures cannot gain the ability, for example, to fly or to grow eyes if their basic set of genetic information does not allow such changes to occur. Fanciful evolution concepts which appeal to divine intervention to bring about higher change cannot truly be called evolution because the idea of natural change has had to be abandoned in favor of countless rapid interventions. The concept of theistic evolution is plagued with inherent conceptual problems.
Historians in the future will look back at this era and express astonishment at the dominant role played by the PAS. Here we have a body which is not a teaching arm of the Catholic Church and yet it wields extraordinary worldwide influence within the Church. What other body which is mostly comprised of non-Catholics has such powerful influence on Catholic intelligentsia?
What is the point in providing a forum for those who oppose Church doctrine to disseminate their beliefs, as though the Church is ambivalent to the profound impact made by anti-Catholic Origins beliefs? This is not helping objective truth to shine through; it’s only helping confusion to prevail. Given the high prestige enjoyed for seven decades by the PAS, who among the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Heads of Orders, directors of Catholic educational institutions, priests and nuns generally, and multitudes among the laity, would not feel intimidated in trying to object to dissenting Origins views being disseminated by the PAS?
I have seen at close hand over many years how individuals have been persecuted within Catholic institutions and either sacked or demoted for protesting against evolution; for speaking in defense of objective truth known from Catholic Tradition and from genuine modern discoveries. Back in the early 1960s an almost sudden pro-evolution wave swept through many Catholic schools in Australia. For the first time, many teachers began openly to ridicule the idea that Adam and Eve are our first parents. Not a few teachers mocked the idea. This attack from within the Church on the doctrine of Original Sin resulted in enormous numbers of young Catholics losing their faith while attending Catholic schools. Any distressed parents who objected were often either patronized or encountered a hostile reaction from principals, teachers or bureaucratic educational “experts”. The laity generally was easily confused and few priests knew enough about their own beliefs as Catholics to know what to say for or against evolution. Today, many priests and laity are convinced that the creation/evolution debate is irrelevant in the modern world, and many do not even believe in an historical Adam and Eve.
It is sobering to recall that when Pope Pius XII allowed investigation into evolution back in 1950, three years before Crick and Watson announced the discovery of the genetic code, he made it clear that he feared that the so-called scientific evolutionary discoveries could do harm to Catholic beliefs such as the doctrine of Original Sin. How prophetic, in view of the later, catastrophic, evolutionist-inspired Modernist revolt within Catholicism!
Let us now look more closely at pro-evolution views disseminated by the PAS. The very titles of some conferences display open acceptance of evolution theory:
Recent Advances In The Evolution Of Primates.24-27 May 1982, pp. xvii-204.
Round Table On The Problems Of The Origin Of Life. 22-26 October 1996, pp. 152.
The Origin And Early Evolution Of Life. 22-26 October 1996, pp. 340.
The famous atheistic cosmologist Stephen Hawking had this to say in his book A Brief History Of Time: From The Big Bang To Black Holes (p.115) about his speech in the Vatican:
Consider also some papers given at the PAS conference Science And The Future Of Mankind (Nov 10-13, 2000). The following extracts show beyond doubt that evolution was accepted as fact at that conference and fantastic concepts postulated as to how evolution supposedly gave rise to today’s life forms. Consider some examples:
In his paper entitled “Natural Theology In The Light Of Modern Cosmology And Biology”, Richard Swinburne made the following comments:
In reality, Darwin was not correct and there are no laws of evolution; they exist only in the imagination of evolutionists. The basic premise taken for granted by Swinburne is completely false and this undermines his entire speculation that God carried out the initial Creation and then fine tuned an Anthropic Universe which allowed human beings to arise by evolution.
Another speaker at the same conference, Vera Rubin, in her paper “A Millennium View Of The Universe”, noted at the outset that:
Wolf Singer, in his paper at the same conference, “The Transition From Biological To Cultural Evolution”, outlined his belief that Free Will originated via evolution:
This highly implausible speculation by Singer relies on one gratuitous assertion after another and is devoid of substance. But it illustrates how far one can go in trying to explain the origin of life forms once Special Creation is excluded from contention. In reality, evolution is not fact, it did not occur because it cannot occur, and a better explanation is that God simply created our first parents Adam and Eve with minds able to reason and to comprehend right from wrong, and He grants free will to human beings made in his image.
In his concluding speech at the 2000 conference, Cardinal Paul Poupard addressed the topic of “Christ and Science”, and noted that the link between Christ and science and scientists is still largely unexplored. Astonishingly, he gave great praise to Teilhard de Chardin:
Allow me to refer en passant to one very noteworthy attempt made in this area: Father Teilhard de Chardin’s Science and Christ [Feb 27, 1927]. It was only an attempt, and it may well have attracted some criticism, but it was a noble effort on the part of one of the twentieth century’s great anthropologists to bring his scientific knowledge face to face with Christ. In his study of matter, this great Jesuit anthropologist perceived a strong urge to unification and synthesis, an excess of energy which enabled matter to transcend itself more and more. He saw this as evidence of a process which would culminate in Christ. Teilhard was obviously not so naïve as to try to deduce Christian doctrine from the simple study of the properties of matter. He wrote that science, left to itself, cannot discover Christ, but Christ fulfils the desires which arise in our hearts when we are at the school of Science. For Teilhard, Christ was so much a part of nature, as a unifying element, that he did not always acknowledge Christ’s individuality. But at least he was looking in the right direction in his attempt to build a bridge between scientific research and the person of Christ.
Was Cardinal Poupard correctly informed in his praise of Teilhard? Teilhard was really an evolutionary zealot whose works were rejected all his life, and still are officially rejected by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. It is common knowledge that Pius XII actually rejected Teilhard’s pantheistic ideas in his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis. Fr. George Duggan in Teilhardism and the Faith (1968) showed that Teilhard’s concept of unification was highly flawed since it attempted to replace being as the basis of metaphysics. From a scientific viewpoint, the Nobel Prize winner Sir Peter Medawar scathingly dismissed Teilhard’s pseudo-scientific ideas such as “noogenesis” and “pious bunk”. Regarding Teilhard’s integrity, the famous evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould showed in a lengthy and painstakingly researched 1980 article that Teilhard was almost certainly heavily involved in the infamous Piltdown Man hoax which was not exposed as fraud until 1953, after 40 years of being touted as evidence of evolution. Gould pointed out that Piltdown Man should have been cited by Teilhard as outstanding proof—virtually the only proof—for his theory of evolutionary convergence. Yet Teilhard, the passionate evolutionist, remained curiously silent about Piltdown Man all his life except for one very brief mention in a 1920’s short article.
And how can we overlook the devastating rebuke of Teilhard by Dietrich Von Hildebrand, the outstanding German scholar (as well as courageous and outspoken opponent of Hitler) and author of the spiritual treasure Transformation In Christ. In his book Trojan Horse In The City Of God: The Catholic Crisis Explained (p.284), Von Hildebrand had this to say about Teilhard’s beliefs:
Teilhard’s thought is hopelessly at odds with Christianity. Christian revelation presupposes certain basic natural facts such as the existence of objective truth, the spiritual reality of an individual person, the radical difference between spirit and matter, the difference between body and soul, the unalterable objectivity of moral good and evil, freedom of the will, the immortality of the soul, and, of course, the existence of a personal God. Teilhard’s approach to all of these questions reveals an unbridgeable chasm between his theology fiction and Christian revelation.
On Nov 12-14, 1999, the PAS conducted a conference entitled Science For Man And Man For Science. In a refreshing change from pro-evolution speeches delivered at other PAS conferences, one of the speakers at this conference seems intuitively to have sensed that something is wrong in all the pro-evolution theorizing about man. Julian Marias in his very short paper “The Search For Man”, while stopping short of dismissing evolution per se, nevertheless showed that it is most unsatisfactory in trying to explain the unique reality of mankind:
… it is difficult to explain the fact that mankind for an enormous period of time did not change, did not display the attributes we find in ourselves, and that then in a few thousands of years there was an enormous acceleration, and that this mankind created everything we have, everything by which we define ourselves. I think this is very unlikely. It is difficult to accept this. … I think man is something different: a human person is a reality which is extremely different from all other realities … the fact of creation is evident, absolutely evident, because we understand by creation the radical innovation of reality. … There is either man or non-man. It is unlikely that there were missing links, and none of them exist now or is real in our world. ( emphasis added)
I submit that opinions concerning Origins articulated from within the PAS have had a lamentable impact over many decades on the understanding of, and dissemination of, the objective truth of Creation. Take for example, Fr Georges Lemaitre, the first President of the Academy who was a proponent of Big Bang theory—which itself is now ironically taking intense heat from many scientists who oppose Big Bang theory and who signed the Open Letter to the Scientific Community in New Scientist (May 22, 2004), later joined by many more signatories on the web site www.cosmologystatement.org [the web site no longer exists on the Internet]. We are informed on the PAS website that Fr Lemaitre, “enabled the Pontiff to understand from closer to hand at the beginning of the 1950s the meaning of the new cosmological models which were by then beginning to become established in the scientific world, and the philosophical, or even theological, questions which at first sight appeared to be involved.” Fr. Lemaitre and his colleagues would have had a great opportunity to articulate Big Bang theory directly to Pius XII unchallenged, but how could the Pope be expected to know whether this advice was true or misleading?
It seems highly likely that the advice of the trusted PAS advisers led Pius XII to speak seemingly in favor of long ages in his address “Proofs for the Existence of God in the Light of Modern Natural Science”, given to the Academy on Nov. 22, 1951. In that speech, in which the Pope was primarily addressing the fact that there is a Creator and that Creation is an historical fact, he asked two important questions and then indicated he had received scientific advice: “Is science in a position to state when the mighty beginning of the cosmos took place, and what was the initial or primitive state of the universe? The most competent experts in atomic physics, in collaboration with astronomers and astrophysicists, have attempted to shed light on these two difficult but extremely interesting problems.” The Pope even named one of his pro-long ages advisers: “… an outstanding modern scientist, Sir Edmund Whittaker, member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences …”. ( emphasis added)
After outlining the PAS speculation in favor of an age of billions of years age for the Universe, Pius XII nevertheless sounded an important note of caution in the same speech with the following warning about the possible impact on doctrine: “It is quite true that the facts established up to the present time are not an absolute proof of creation in time, as are the proofs drawn from metaphysics and Revelation in what concerns simple creation, or those founded on Revelation if there be question of creation in time. The pertinent facts of the natural sciences, to which we have referred, are awaiting still further research and confirmation, and the theories founded on them are in need of further development and proof before they can provide a sure foundation for arguments which, of themselves, are outside the proper sphere of the natural sciences.” Thus, it is incorrect to conclude that Pius XII declared in favor of long ages of the Universe.
Did Fr. Lemaitre and his colleagues ever think through the fact that support for long ages inevitably leads to denial of the global Flood? The occurrence of a catastrophic global Flood long after the time of Adam and Eve, resulting in the formation of the fossil record, presents a major contradiction to the idea that the strata were laid down over eons of time before the time of Adam and Eve, and it thus undermines a major assumption in long ages dating methods. No wonder the proponents of long ages argue for a series of localized floods instead of a global Flood, but their dissenting revision involves denial of the scriptural passages of St. Peter and Jesus Christ in support of the global Flood in which only eight human beings survived. Let us not forget that, as the Catechism of the Council of Trent affirmed, the historical reality of the Ark of Noah is of great importance in typology as a symbol of the Church and the waters of Baptism.
There seems little doubt that the biased advice of the PAS to members of the Magisterium over many decades has been in favour of evolution as fact. What steady flow of advice throughout most of his life persuaded Pope John Paul II to speak favorably on the theory of evolution, without clearly defining what he means by the term, in his Oct 22, 1996, speech to the Academy? The Pope must have been relying on advice when he stated that “new knowledge leads the theory of evolution to be no longer considered as a mere hypothesis … this theory has progressively imposed itself on the attention of researchers following a series of discoveries made in the various disciplines of knowledge, imposing itself also therefore on the attention of theologians and bible experts.” What is this mysterious “new knowledge”? He did not reveal any details and I contend that this “new knowledge” is in fact non-existent. Unfortunately, that papal speech was widely portrayed across the world wrongly as a signal that the Catholic Church now accepts evolution, with the mistaken implication that previous Church teachings on Origins are superseded.
I contend that various Popes and other members of the Magisterium have for many decades been given incorrect pro-evolution advice by PAS spokesmen, and how could they be expected to know whether this advice was true or misleading? Pope John Paul II himself has informed us that the natural sciences were never his specialty. As he wrote in his book, “Crossing the Threshold Of Hope” (p.199), “I had long been interested in man as person. Perhaps my interest was due to the fact that I had never had a particular predilection for the natural sciences. I was always more fascinated by man … when I discovered my priestly vocation, man became the central theme of my pastoral work.” Thus it seems fair to conclude that the Pope has long deferred trustingly to PAS advisers and I believe that his trust has been misplaced.
Correct information concerning Creation is of great importance to the integrity of Catholic beliefs. There seems to be a widespread belief in the modern Catholic Church that matter was designed by God with inherent properties which allow life forms to evolve naturally after God carried out the initial Creation. I submit that belief in such a mistaken idea of Creation can give rise to mistaken philosophical speculation about the very nature of matter, and in turn could even impact on beliefs held about the doctrine of transubstantiation.
In an extraordinarily candid recent interview, the Director of the Vatican Observatory, Fr. George V. Coyne SJ, admitted that his views about God and the Universe have been greatly influenced by his studies of astronomy. It is clear that he came to deny crucial and long declared doctrinal teachings of the Catholic Church affecting origins. In an interview article in the Chicago Catholic New World newspaper (June 23, 2002), entitled “Searching the Heavens: Vatican Astronomer sees Hand of God in the Stars”, Fr Coyne made some astonishing admissions which contradict Catholic doctrine:
… “When I was a young child going through grammar school, I was taught that God created the universe,” he said. “What kind of God would create this kind of universe?” “The answer,” he said, “is not the God of Isaac Newton, the watchmaker who created the world, wound it up and watched it go.” The universe Coyne knows doesn’t fit that image of creation. “It’s evolving, physically evolving, biologically evolving. The universe has a certain creativity of its own. Human life came to be because of necessary processes, chance processes, and what I call opportunity. God made a universe that held a certain opportunity.” And for human life to arise from the stuff of stars—all 10 to the 22nd power of them—took the vast majority of the universe’s 15 billion years, with various kinds of chemicals zooming through the void, eventually bumping into one another and combining in ways that allowed for complex life to happen. “As the universe ages, you get more complicated molecules, and eventually you get the human brain,” Coyne said. “Did God do this? Do I need God to make the human brain? As a scientist, I can get completely satisfactory answers without bringing God into the picture. But I find it difficult to accept. It’s a mystery that the universe could come from nothing. … Once I believe in God it’s not just a rational process. I can’t prove to you that God exists, but you can’t prove to me that he or she doesn’t. …The God I now believe in is very different from the God the sisters taught me about. He’s not keeping control of everything. The universe has a dynamism about it, and even the Creator can’t know everything. I see God with the universe as sort of hoping and wishing and setting things up so there’s a strong possibility for human life. There’s a precariousness about that, but there’s also a creativity about it. God with respect to the universe is like a parent with a child. You have to educate the child, but there comes a time when they have to make their own choices.” ( emphasis added)
What shallow theology! Let us not forget that Fr Coyne has been the Director of the Vatican Observatory for over 25 years and he ought to give reliable advice so that the PAS stays within proper limits. On the contrary, Fr Coyne obviously feels confident that he can with impunity publicly reject Catholic Tradition regarding the origin of mankind, and articulate beliefs which endanger the doctrine of Original Sin. Were he publicly to advocate for ordination of female priests, or for remarriage within the Church after divorce, or to speak against the Church’s constant teaching against contraception, for how long would this be tolerated by Rome? If the doctrinal foundations laid down within Genesis 1-11 are allowed to be open to revision, then why not allow the entire Bible to be open to revision— which can only lead to doctrinal chaos?
On June 24-26, 2004, the Vatican Observatory hosted yet another symposium on evolution. Organized by the Templeton Foundation, it brought together 13 scientists and theologians who, we are told, presented the latest from their respective research on evolution. Let us reflect on how the biased PAS disinformation flows down and has a bad impact right down the line, ultimately filtering out among the Bishops, clergy and laity. The very fact that the following pro-evolution speculation at this symposium were reported on the front page of the July 1, 2004, edition of The Record, the archdiocesan Catholic weekly newspaper of Perth, Western Australia, speaks volumes about the subtle and virtually unchallenged domination wielded by the Academy:
The symposium examined the underlying purpose and deeper structure of the flukes, quirks and seemingly random results of evolution. … The scientists and theologians said there may be more at work than just simple, random selection and “struggle for survival.”… “Evolution is an extremely important area of science, and our understanding of it is still in its infancy”, said Mary Ellen Meyers, a senior fellow at the Templeton Foundation and organizer of the symposium. … George McGhee, professor of geology, ecology and evolution at Rutgers University proposed the possibility of a “periodic table of life” being discovered someday. “The periodic table of elements was discovered by analyzing the convergent behavior of the elements. Hopefully we can discover a simpler structure underlying the complexity of evolution by analyzing the convergent behavior of species,” according to McGhee. … Convergence is when two or more completely different organisms in similar environments develop a similar structure or behavior. An example is birds, bats and insects that have wings not because they spring from a common ancestor, but because wings evolved independently as the best way to adapt to that organism’s needs, McGhee said. … English paleontologist Simon Conway Morris said that the study of examples of convergence in evolution “has been neglected. Biology has a larger structure that demands an explanation.” He said evolution demonstrates a sort of “homing instinct: if one pathway is frustrated, another will surely be found.” He said plants and other organisms all invaded land at about the same time and were able to adapt to the new land-based environment. … Central to casting doubt on a purely natural explanation for why life forms become increasingly complex over time is the eventual development of the human mind and consciousness. … Evolution, according to McGhee, is the “exploration of possibilities.” Many symposium speakers said that evolution can open the door to the divine. Meyers said the debate over evolution versus the biblical account of creation was “a very peculiar issue related to Protestant fundamentalism in the United States. If you go back to Aquinas, his point was that God can work through nature just as he works through the Church,” she said. ( emphasis added)
Remember, these are the views of individuals who are supposed to be highly knowledgeable about evolution, not just a bunch of poorly informed amateurs! It all smacks of wishful thinking and is very thin on rigorous scholarship. Yet this report was placed prominently on the front page of the Perth Catholic newspaper, and no doubt would have been accepted by many Catholics in good faith as being in conformity with official Church teachings.
In reality, the idea of convergence is evolutionary jargon which has no support in real life findings. Similarity of design does not mean that convergence is possible; a much better explanation is that God created life forms in their own kinds, and He used an economy of design. Imagine the colossal odds against the idea of eyes evolving independently in various life forms! A non-rational sightless creature somehow has to conceive the advantage which sight could convey for survival, Then it has to make room for eye sockets, and then it has to provide the intricate lenses and blood vessels which are necessary. Imagine the gargantuan odds against the idea of flight evolving independently among all sorts of life forms! Wings did not evolve independently in numerous life forms; each kind of winged creature was created with its own special unique specification. Some kinds of birds can fly across huge oceans, but many others do not have that ability programmed into them. Some birds are designed to catch fish; others like the Australian Kookaburra are skilled at killing snakes. And then there are delightful humming birds and amazingly designed woodpeckers. In Australia alone there are 200 species of migratory birds which fly in and out of the Continent all the time. Birds commonly called “mutton birds” fly from southern Australia to Siberia and back again via North America each year — not a bad feat of design by the Creator! In reality, each kind of flying creature is radically unique and the idea of a half-evolved migratory bird is quite untenable.
Of course God works through nature and He works through the Church. Another of the 2004 symposium evolutionists, Fr. John Haught, is correct in his contention that a desirable world view should balance natural science and metaphysics. Science and religion truly are complementary explanations of reality but we must keep within proper limits. The objective truth is that evolution is outmoded science and quite impossible. Is no one in the Academy aware that the famous evolutionist Stephen Jay Gould, some 25 years ago, astonished the scientific world by announcing that there are no transitional links found in the fossil record? Gould called their absence, “the trade secret of paleontology”. They are simply not there, whereas Darwin predicted that the numbers of intermediate stages in the fossil record should be “inconceivably great!”.
Has no one in the PAS studied the horrendously complex problems facing evolution known from modern findings in genetics and molecular biology, as shown by Michael Denton in his book Evolution: A Theory In Crisis? Are they unaware that molecules are amazingly complex, virtually defying all attempts to conceive of an earlier precursor? Do they never think about the origin and significance of symbiosis and interdependence at work in nature? The very sight of a bee moving from flower to flower (and cross-pollinating as it goes along) on a lovely day is indeed beautiful, is it not? But this isn’t the product of evolution process—it’s evidence of Design and Secondary Causes at work right in front of our eyes! When do we hear of any dissenting views within the PAS against the myth of evolution? Who within the PAS is willing to speak up in favour of Special Creation and demand that children in Catholic schools around the world be taught the truth of creation/evolution instead of being cheated with biased evolutionary propaganda?
From the flawed premise that evolution is fact and a “given”, PAS evolution theorists end up postulating fantastic neo-Modernist ideas such as the evolution of mind and consciousness. Can there be such a thing as a half-evolved human mind? Even if such a thing could be, where does the rational soul come in? The Church teaches that the first female human being Eve was specially created from a portion of matter taken from Adam. Adam and Eve must have been rapidly created in adult form, instead of Adam arriving as a baby boy after being carried around, body and rational soul, within the womb of an animal mother, and then waiting for about 25 years until Eve would arrive on the scene.
Why is the PAS allowed to conduct conferences in which speculation is made against declared Church doctrine? It’s not good enough for the PAS to issue a disclaimer for such views. The situation is not funny as ultimately the salvation of souls may be at stake. All around the world, the prestige enjoyed by the PAS means that Catholics who are poorly informed about Origins — whether they be clergy or laity — look trustingly to the Academy for guidance but instead receive biased and muddled pro-evolutionary views. The impact is much worse when you consider that many, many young Catholic children are being starved of truth about vital foundational doctrinal beliefs because of the effective and seemingly unchallenged domination exercised by the PAS over Catholic Education. I contend that the PAS is in fact facilitating the on-going crisis of faith within the Catholic Church, and is severely retarding the possible flowering of Catholic culture via evangelization with the truth of Special Creation in an increasingly post-Christian world. The obvious pro-evolution bias of the Academy has not only resulted in the exclusion from membership of Catholic scholars who oppose evolution but has also brought debilitating doctrinal confusion within the true Church founded by Jesus Christ.
It is about time that the functioning of the PAS was overhauled to ensure that it keeps within proper limits and within declared Catholic teachings. In the meantime, I urge you to fully support the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation in whatever sphere of influence you may have within the Church and within society at large, and of course with your prayers as well. Let us re-evangelize anew with the truth of Special Creation!