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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Tue, 5 Nov 96 12:32:34 -0800
Subject: QOTD, 11/5/96
[It's election day in the USA today. Get out and vote if you can... -psl]
Forwarded-by: George Osner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
"If liberty and equality, as is thought by some, are chiefly to be found
in democracy, they will be best attained when all persons alike share in
the government to the utmost."
lcomed by scientists but likely to raise howls from the
The Pope's recognition that evolution is ``more than just a
theory'' came in a written message he sent Wednesday to a meeting of the
Pontifical Academy of Sciences, a body of experts that advises the Roman
Catholic Church on scientific issues.
It broke new ground by acknowledging that the theory of the
physical evolution of man and other species through natural selection and
hereditary adaptation appeared to be valid.
Though the Pope made clear he regarded the human soul as of
immediate divine creation, and so not subject to the process, his remarks
brought banner headlines in the Italian press.
``Pope says we may descend from monkeys,'' the conservative
newspaper Il Giornale said on its front page. La Repubblica said the Pope
had ``made peace with Darwin.''
The theory of evolution, most notably expounded by 19th
century English naturalist Charles Darwin, had until now been viewed by the
Catholic Church as serious and worthy of discussion but still an open
``It is indeed remarkable that this theory has progressively
taken root in the minds of researchers following a series of discoveries
made in different spheres of knowledge,'' the Pope said.
``The convergence, neither sought nor provoked, of results
of studies undertaken independently from each other constitutes in itself
a significant argument in favor of this theory.''
The theories of Darwin and other evolutionists about man's
origins were for long anathema to theologians, who saw a conflict with the
biblical account of creation in the Book of Genesis and the story of Adam
and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Most theologians no longer believe that the doctrine that
God created the world and made man in his own image and the theory of
evolution stand in each other's way.
But fundamentalist Christians who take a literal approach to
Genesis, known as ``creationists,'' have recently reopened the controversy,
especially in the southern United States.
In Tennessee, where teacher John Scopes was famously fined
$100 by a court in 1925 for teaching evolution in his class in what became
known as the Monkey Trial, a bill that would have banned teaching evolution
as fact was only narrowly voted down in the state legislature earlier this
The Vatican's first substantive response to the theories of
evolution was contained in an encyclical, Humani Generis, written in 1950
by the Pope Pius XII.
It cited no objection to discussing evolution while
cautioning that the theory played into the hands of communists eager to cut
God out of the equation.
Pope John Paul II has previously endorsed the 1950 document.
He said Wednesday its essential point was that ``if the human body has its
origin in living material which pre-exists it, the spiritual soul is
immediately created by God.''
But he also said: ``Today, nearly half a century after
appearance of the encyclical, fresh knowledge leads to recognition of the
theory of evolution as more than just a hypothesis.''
The Pope's acknowledgement was welcomed as a significant
advance by scientists, even though some said it had come late.
``It will allow many Catholic scientists, who have been
engaged for some time in research on human evolution, to continue their work
without any censure or difficulty,'' said Francesco Barone, a leading
Italian scientific philosopher.
© 1996 Peter Langston