From Mr Donal Anthony Foley
SIR – Regarding Peter Dyson’s quotations (Letters, March 20) from Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species: they are really immaterial as far as proving that Darwin was actually promoting belief in God via evolution. It’s only natural that he would have downplayed the atheism inherent in evolution in order to ensure that his book would be read in the still quite religious mid-19th century. It’s not so much the way he attempted to justify his work by referring to the Deity which matters, but what his legacy in practical terms was. And any objective assessment of that legacy must acknowledge that putting evolutionary ideas into practice, as in Communism, Nazism and modern materialism, has been an absolute disaster for mankind. That is quite apart from the fact that evolutionary theory is completely at odds with the biblical account of the origins of mankind and 2,000 years of Christian tradition.
Quentin de la Bédoyère’s says that he hasn’t answered my points in an earlier letter because that is what his Second Sight blog is for. But in the nature of things, unless they are very well-known most blogs are marginal. The fact that theistic evolution is a complete break with Catholic tradition is a serious charge, and it should be answered in a serious way, that is in The Catholic Herald itself. I would argue, though, that it cannot be answered sensibly – but let him prove me wrong. He points to the address by John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, in 1996, where the pope said that the theory of evolution was more than a hypothesis. But the pope’s words here were far from any sort of authoritative teaching, and actually opposed to previous papal teaching.
Pope Benedict has been trying to promote a “hermeneutic of continuity” of late as regards the correct interpretation of the liturgical development which followed the Second Vatican Council, but surely, it must be obvious that theistic evolution represents a massive hermeneutic of discontinuity with respect to everything the Church has previously taught regarding creation. This is the point which Quentin de la Bédoyère is not acknowledging.
Yours faithfully, DONAL ANTHONY FOLEY Castle Donington, Leicestershire From Fr Aldhelm Cameron-Brown OSB SIR – In the March 18 edition of the English version of L’Osservatore Romano it is written: “Neither the Catholic Church, nor any of its notable exponents, has ever condemned either Darwinism or the theory of evolution.” Should that not put an end to any more controversies on the subject in your esteemed columns?
Yours faithfully, ALDHELM CAMERON-BROWN Prinknash Abbey, Cranham, Glos