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60 • Part I. The Creed: The Faith Professed

with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the

origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living mat-

ter” (no. 36). At the same time, Pope Pius XII reiterated the doctrine that

each human soul is immortal and individually created by God.

Pope John Paul II made a further commentary on this question in

his 1996 Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. While acknowl-

edging the scientific evidence in favor of evolution, he cautioned that

the theories of evolution that consider the human soul the seat of the

intellect and will by which the human person comes to know and love

God “as emerging from forces of living matter” would not be compat-

ible with the truth about the dignity of the human person as taught in

Revelation. This position does not conflict with the nature of scientific

methodology in the various fields, since their method is one of observa-

tion and correlation. The spiritual dimension of the human person is of

a different order that is related to yet transcends the material world and

that is not reducible simply to the physical aspects of our being, which

can be more readily studied by the scientific method.

Among scientists, a lively debate about aspects of Darwin’s theory

of natural selection as the key to evolutionary hypothesis continues.

Christian faith does not require the acceptance of any particular theory

of evolution, nor does it forbid it, provided that the particular theory

is not strictly materialistic and does not deny what is essential to the

spiritual essence of the human person, namely that God creates each

human soul directly to share immortal life with him. At a popular level

The Bible itself speaks to us of the origin of the universe

and its makeup, not in order to provide us with a scien-

tific treatise but in order to state the correct relationship

of humanity with God and the universe. Sacred Scripture

wishes simply to declare that the world was created

by God. (Pope John Paul II, Address to the Pontifical

Academy of Sciences [October 3, 1981])