'MORE THAN A HYPOTHESIS': THE DISCOURSE BETWEEN CATHOLICISM AND ORGANIC EVOLUTION, 1859-2019
Citation:Feheney, John Patrick, 'MORE THAN A HYPOTHESIS': THE DISCOURSE BETWEEN CATHOLICISM AND ORGANIC EVOLUTION, 1859-2019, 2022
JPMF M Litt Thesis 10012022 Print version.pdf (Thesis) 966.8Kb
This thesis reviews and critiques the discourse between Catholicism and organic evolution over a period of one hundred and sixty years, from the first publication of Charles Darwin's famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life (henceforth abbreviated to Origin), in 1859 up to 2019. The main contention in the thesis is that there was significant and continual discourse between Catholicism and evolution during the entire one hundred and sixty years between these two dates. The inductive methodology employed involved the critical review of a representative selection of the literature dealing with dialogue between Catholicism and evolution over this period. In addition to books and articles on the topic, the thesis also examined relevant statements from Popes and Catholic spokespeople. One of the richest sources, however, and one hitherto arguably underused, was a collection of documents from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. The material on which the main thesis is based is organised into four chapters, the first three covering the nineteenth, twentieth and twenty-first centuries respectively. The fourth chapter examines the contribution of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in some detail and ends with a section devoted to conclusions. Catholics not only wrote about evolution but also were among those who, through their own research, helped develop evolutionary studies reach the respected niche they enjoy in science today. The second half of the twentieth century began with a formal statement from Pope Pius XII in the encyclical, Humani Generis, stating that evolution was a credible hypothesis which explained the development of the human body from animal forbears and that it was acceptable to Catholics. Pope John Paul II went much further when he declared in 1996 that evolution was ‘more than a hypothesis’. In the ongoing challenge to reconcile new truths revealed by evolutionary science, it has been shown that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences is a valued and effective structure. This thesis shows that not only is evolution not an enemy of Catholicism but that it provides a key to understanding the mechanism by which God, the ultimate Creator, works in this universe.
Author: Feheney, John Patrick
Publisher:Trinity College Dublin. School of Religion. Discipline of Religions and Theology
Type of material:Thesis
Availability:Full text available