A Cultural Challenge: Understanding Evolution

  • Article
  • 15 pages
  • Level: university

Fr. George V. Coyne, S. J., Director of the Vatican Observatory from 1978-2006 writes:

To what extent can what we know from science about the origins of the universe and of faith-science influence our basic human quest for understanding? From modern science we know that the birth and death of stars is very important. If it were not happening, you and I would not be here. In order to get the chemical elements to make the human body, we had to have three generations of stars. Did we happen by chance or by necessity in this evolving universe? There is a third element here that is very important. It is what I call opportunity. What this means is that the universe is so prolific in offering the opportunity for the success of both chance and necessary processes that such a character of the universe must be included in the discussion. Within such a universe all living things came to be through Neo-Darwinian evolution and the so-called Intelligent Design Movement is not a valid alternative.

If we confront what we know of origins scientifically with religious faith in God the Creator, in the senses described above, what results? I would claim that the detailed scientific understanding of origins has no bearing whatsoever on whether God exists or not. It has a great deal to do with my knowledge of God, should I happen to believe he exists.

Published in De las ciencias a la teología: ensayos interdisciplinares en homenaje a Manuel García DoncelClick here for the full text, available from Taylor and Francis.