How many Catholics believe in evolution

Faith versus Evolution: The Cross with Darwin

Around 160 years after Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species was published, his theory of evolution is still making headlines. Religious representatives are among the sharpest critics, even if many have come to terms with Darwin.

The theory of evolution is "out of date and rotten" - with this legend the spokesman for the Turkish AKP government, Numan Kurtulmus, made people sit up and take notice at the beginning of the year. At that time he had already announced what had recently become clear: Darwin will be pushed out of the Turkish curriculum. The Islamic conservative government recently presented the new curriculum. International criticism was the result.

IGGÖ boss "personally against theory"

The cause also made waves in Austria because Ibrahim Olgun, head of the Islamic Faith Community in Austria (IGGÖ), made contradicting statements about it. First he spoke out against the plans of the Turkish government, later he rowed back in a statement to a Turkish-language online magazine.

When asked about this, the IGGÖ declared that Olgun was for the treatment of teaching in schools, but personally against the theory of evolution. He is accused of rowing back at the AKP's call. The denomination said that Olgun only made ambiguous expressions the first time.

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Charles Darwin (1809-1882) is still controversial

Evangelicals against Darwin

It is not a new phenomenon that believers and religious proponents of the theory of evolution are hostile to the theory of evolution: After all, Darwin provided a natural explanation for the universe, life and man, and not a divine one. It was a departure from the doctrine of creation, because the hypothesis of a planning God is not found in this theory. The fact that all organisms develop over generations without fixed species boundaries through the process of selection and mutation, as Darwin explained in the 19th century, is not set in stone for many people.

The theory of evolution is also controversial in the USA - especially among evangelical Protestants. A 2014 poll by Rice University in Houston found that of about 2,000 evangelicals, 43 percent embrace creationism, and more than 40 percent want it taught in schools instead of evolution.

Varieties of creationism

There are two varieties of creationism, said Ulrich Körtner, theologian at the Evangelical Theological Faculty of the University of Vienna, to religion.ORF.at. On the one hand there are those creationists who represent a premodern view of history: They take the biblical story of creation literally, assume that a divine Creator created man and all life and that the earth is only a few thousand and not billions of years old.

ORF

Ulrich Körtner

Creation in biology class

On the other hand, there are those creationists - they are often referred to as neo-creationists - who are supporters of the intelligent design concept. They believe that there is a creator, a systematic intelligence “who created these living beings in a targeted manner,” said Körtner. They are of the opinion that certain occurrences in nature cannot be explained with the theory of evolution and the knowledge of modern genetics.

The creationists argue that intelligent design is a scientific theory and require, with some success, that it be taught at least on a par with evolution theory in the United States - in biology classes. A prominent supporter is Mike Pence, US Vice President and Evangelical.

Russian Orthodox rejection

Orthodox Christians are in the majority in Russia, and Darwin's theories there too have suffered badly. “Anyone who wants to believe that they are descended from monkeys should do so. But he must not force these views on anyone else, "said the late head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Alexi II, ten years ago.

In a lecture he had criticized the theory of evolution to applause and demanded that the belief in creation should be taught in schools. Debates about the creation and the pushing back of Darwin in curricula have repeatedly been controversial in the past - for example in Roman Catholic Italy and, most recently, in Orthodox Serbia.

"Arranged with Darwin"

The debate has a long tradition: The theory of evolution was also strongly rejected by the Roman Catholic Church in the 19th century. In the meantime, however, the position of the Latin Church has changed. The change followed step by step. In 1996, for example, Pope John Paul II weakened the church's criticism of the theory by emphasizing that it was “more than a mere hypothesis”. He declared the theory of evolution to be compatible with belief.

APA / EPA / Massimo Capodanno

John Paul II said the theory of evolution was more than a hypothesis

Even under Pope Benedict XVI. there have been developments towards harmonization, said Körtner. This is how Benedict XVI spoke. ten years ago priests said that juxtaposing creationism and evolutionism, as if someone who believes in God should not think of evolution, is absurd.

He emphasized, however, that evolution does not answer all questions, such as the philosophical one: where does everything come from? According to Körtner, the Catholic Church “came to terms” with Darwin. This also applies to Protestant churches: a few years ago, for example, the Evangelical Church in Germany (EKD) formulated an orientation guide on the subject of evolution and creation, in which arguments are similar to those in the Catholic Church.

Controversy about Schönborn

However, Cardinal Christoph Schönborn sparked a debate in 2005 with an article in the "New York Times". In it he wrote that "evolution in the sense of common ancestry may be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense - an unguided, unplanned process of random variation and natural selection - is not." His words have been quoted, discussed, and nationally and internationally criticized. And in the current discussion about the statements by IGGÖ boss Olgun, reports on Schönborn's statements were recalled in social media.

In later requests to speak, Schönborn relativized his statement. Although he maintained that evolution could be true, he also said that he did not see the Christian doctrine of creation as an alternative to the theory of evolution. The theory of evolution is a scientific thesis, the doctrine of creation is a matter of belief, and both should be open to each other. Ultimately, according to Körtner, Schönborn had rowed back to the official doctrine of the church.

Clara Akinyosoye, religion.ORF.at

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