Nevertheless, it is on this point that I would like to cite the famous text of John Paul II on Evolution where he says that
“ recent findings lead us to recognize that the theory of evolution is more than a hypothesis ”.
It is very significant that the Darwinians, Christian or not, frequently cite this but never these two sentences which are found just after the citation in the text:
“ More than the theory of evolution, it is necessary to speak of theories of evolution. This plurality comes with, on the one hand, the diversity of explanations which were proposed for the mechanism of evolution and on the other hand, on the different philosophies which they refer to”
“ As a consequence, the theories of evolution which, by the influence of philosophies which inspire them, consider the spirit to be an emergent force of living matter or as a simple epiphenomenon of this matter are incompatible with man’s truth ”
The first passage affirms in a very clear way that there is not just one theory of evolution but that there are several to choose from. The second passage seems to say that Darwinism is incompatible with the Christian Faith, as Darwinism affirms that only forces of living matters permits the emergence of all forms and their characteristics, and that one among them was the spirit which is associated with the “ Homo sapiens ” form.
First let me make clear that the popes opinion may be interesting for christians but not from a scientific perspective. In general, what the pope say about one thing or another is interesting from a political point of view; christians are voter and if they make their choices based on papal opinions that influence more then religious issues.
In general, what religious leader say must be considered as important if it influence more than religious issues.
Now, what a pope say may be considered important in a temporal mode.
A pope is supposed to detain « the truth », by representing an omniscient being, namely God. That could lead to the conclusion that in the succession of popes never would one invalidate what one of his predecessors affirmed. Facts show that this conclusion is false. That can be due to the fact that popes don’t hold « the truth » or that they are liars. I wouldn’t like to think of so pious persons that they are lying; I do prefer to think that they don’t hold « the truth ».
So, what a pope say isn’t quite important otherwise than for its political consequences.
Exegesis is one of the favor activities around scriptures. Jean Staune quote the pope and give us an explanation (exegesis) of what he wanted to say:
What Jean Staune refers to as the first passage, is interpreted as indicating that there are several theories from which one could chose. I could propose another reading: there were several theories (lamarkism was one), but there is only one left. One shouldn’t forget that Lamark was the one who proposed Evolution, and Darwin just offered the explanation of how it worked, by putting aside Lamark’s teleologism. Jean Paul II say: « … were proposed [evolution theories] […] they refer to [philosophies]… », which left us to one theory and several philosophies; I suppose the pope knew his verbs.
So, no choice about the theory of evolution from Jean Paul II 😉 But once again, who really cares?
The second sentence is interpreted by Jean Staune as the epitaph of darwinism for christians! That could be interpreted as a tentative from him to say that Jean Paul II was inconsequent (that the lighter way I found to say it). He starts by saying that darwinism is more then an hypothesis and tow sentences later say that it isn’t worth considering! Now, even if atheist, I should defend the pope, because I don’t thing that the clergy is composed by silly persons.
I would never say that the spirit is emergent from living matter of an epiphenomenon. It’s just another natural process, nothing less, nothing more. And, « emergence », the way Jean Staune use it, have nothing to do with the darwinian approach; one should avoid mixing arguments from different ones. That fits well the scripture and doesn’t make the pope looking like a fool.