ROME, NOV. 3, 2008 (Zenit.org).- There is no incompatibility between the scientific theory of evolution and the Christian understanding of creation, says the archbishop of Vienna.
Cardinal Christoph Schönborn affirmed this Friday at the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which ends tomorrow. The academy is considering “Scientific Insight Into the Evolution of the Universe and of Life.”
The prelate explained that there is no contradiction between evolution and a belief in creation, but rather a “conflict between two diverse concepts of man and his rationality, between the Christian vision and a rationalism that pretends to reduce man to the biological dimension.”
Citing various addresses from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, before and after his election as Pope, the Austrian cardinal explained that “there are many proofs in favor of evolution.”
Nevertheless, he stressed, “though this theory enriches our knowledge of life, it doesn’t respond to the great philosophical question: Where does everything come from and how did this everything take a path until coming to be man?”
Therefore, Cardinal Schönborn contended, the key is discovering “that a preceding idea exists, that man is not the fruit of chaos, but that he ‘has been thought of,’ ‘wanted’ and ‘loved'” by the Creator.
In the same vein, Bishop Marcelo Sánchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences, explained to Vatican Radio that the theory of evolution is even closer to the biblical account of creation than many other theories.
“Considering the fact that the Bible presents us with a God who created the world in seven days, the idea of a progressive creation is introduced,” he explained. “In this sense, it is closer than, for example, the theories of the ancient Greeks, who thought of an eternal and cyclical world.”
The difficulty arises, the bishop went on, not with the evolution theory in itself, but with “philosophies that are based on evolutionism and that are materialist, which say that only material exists. But this is not science, rather it is philosophy.”
“Scientific theories are used to make philosophical interpretations, or if you prefer, atheist [interpretations], affirming that everything is chaos,” Bishop Sánchez Sorondo continued. “But I repeat, this is a philosophical opinion, which, in truth, is not held by the great scientists, who are almost all believers.”
According to the pontifical academy official, the Church “is open to what science says. What’s more, it’s very interested in science, because it speaks of nature. The Church has always believed that nature was created by God and that man forms part of nature.”