Last week, continuing on the theme of the Bible, I explained that we do not have to believe God literally created the world in six days. The Bible is made up of many different types of literature, and the Creation stories in Genesis are not meant to be read as science. But they do teach the truth that God created everything out of nothing and that is was good. To believe in the theory of the “Big Bang” is not contrary to faith. If it is the “Big Bang” that began the universe, the matter of these big bangs had to come from somewhere in the first instance. Something must have caused it, and that “Something” is God.
What about evolution? We are free to believe that God created the world and humanity by evolution – that is more complex forms of life developing from less complex forms – provided we believe that the human soul is a direct creation of God. The soul of a human being can never be the result of evolution, because the soul is spirit. Since spirit has no parts, it cannot evolve into something different. But as Catholics, we reject totally the idea that the universe came into existence by blind chance without an intelligent Being behind it all.
And what about Adam and Eve? Were they individuals or a group of people? Venerable Pope Pius XII (1939-58) is the only Pope to really pronounce on this matter. He rejected the idea of Adam and Eve being a group of people. They must have been individuals, since otherwise he could not see how Original Sin came into the world through a group, since presumably it was possible for some of them not to have sinned and thus their descendents would not have inherited Original Sin. St Paul also teaches, “As sin came into the world through one man…” (Romans 5:12).
So in summary, we believe all things were created by a loving God. Even if human beings evolved, God still created us because He created the process of evolution. However, the soul is a special creation of God and did not evolve. Our original parents were created in happiness and holiness, but disobeyed God after being tempted by Satan. This was the ‘Original Sin’. It may or may not have involved eating! But whatever the Original Sin was, as a result, death and suffering came into the world. Original Sin is passed on to the whole of the human race. Just one creature was saved from this – Our Lady, who was conceived immaculately without it. On Wednesday we celebrate the Solemnity of her Assumption into Heaven, which is the natural conclusion of her Immaculate Conception. She is already glorified in Heaven with both body and soul. This is what we all hope for at the end of time.
Fr Paul Gillham IC