Why I wrote Creation, Evolution, and Catholicism

Years ago while teaching CCD I became aware of the skepticism among Catholic teens when they asked me “You don’t really believe in Adam and Eve, do you?” I learned from them that their unbelief in the fundamental doctrines of Genesis was because of their belief in evolution.  Molecules-to-man evolution—the origin of man and of all living things (with or without divine assistance) through hundreds of millions of years of the same kinds of material processes going on now—is taught to most students as a scientific fact in public and Catholic schools and by the culture at-large. 


My CCD students realized there was a conflict between the Bible and what they were taught in school; their school teachers were more effective than their religious educators and had so much more of the students’ time to make their case.
At that point, nothing in my educational background or engineering career had acquainted me with the subject of evolution.  When I did research on evolution I discovered that those who believe it do so based on the premise that cosmic and biological evolution are undeniable scientific facts. Many who accept that belief likewise conclude that God is not necessary and that fiat creation by a loving, personal and interventionist God is unthinkable. World-famous atheist Richard Dawkins said it best: “Darwin made it possible to be an intellectually fulfilled atheist.” 


A Catholic reading this who also believes evolution to be a proven fact may be wondering what this writer’s problem is with that. Understandably so, because the majority of American Catholics accept that evolutionary theories of origins are factual. While accepting that “something” turned into “everything” over billions of years, as taught to them in school, they overlay it with the belief that God guided evolution. That combination of naturalism and supernaturalism is known as theistic evolution. Many Catholics who hold that combination have been taught philosophical proofs for the existence of God and for them it bridges the gap. In other words, Catholics holding that combination find that it “works” for them.   Since they have reached mature adulthood and feel their Faith is fully intact, it is practically impossible to convince them that belief in evolution is causing others to lose their Faith.  Many Catholics simply “tune out” to evidence and arguments against evolution while others accuse evolution skeptics of being an embarrassment to the Church by being so “backward.”
How Some Teens Resolve the Conflict


Who can say if accepting naturalistic evolution and arbitrarily inserting God somewhere into the process is detrimental to any particular student’s Faith? By overlaying God’s continuous suspension of His natural laws on the naturalist consensus of evolution they can arrive at what is, for them, both scientific and religious truth.  But is it actually true? 
In the first place, to be taught each part of the theistic evolution combination separately (naturalistic science in school, supernatural religion at church and home) can lead to “cognitive dissonance.” Cognitive dissonance is defined as a situation involving conflicting attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors. This produces a feeling of discomfort, leading to an alteration in one of the attitudes, beliefs, or behaviors to reduce the discomfort and restore balance.  At some point, teenagers recognize that the naturalistic evolutionary model of origins and the supernatural, fiat creation model described in the Bible, which they have heard read at Mass even if they never opened a Bible, can’t both be true. That is, they experience cognitive dissonance and to relieve the conflict they must alter their beliefs in one direction or the other. 


The evolutionary scientific consensus has been taught to them five days a week, year in and year out, as proven science.  They incorrectly associate that evolutionary, pre-historic “science” with the real science (engineering really) that delivers the goods including all of their favorite electronic gadgets. The science they have been taught provides a coherent explanation of the origin of all reality.  The alternative to the scientific consensus that they have been taught to believe is that a loving, personal God, created the universe and all that is in it out of nothing by an act of His Will.  Further, His Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity is physically present in that locked, gilded box in the church.  A teenager may have been taught what the Church teaches, namely that the entire Bible is the Word of God, written by human authors under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  Doesn’t the belief that the supernatural transubstantiation of bread into the Body/Person of Jesus when the priest says “This is My Body” depend on the Bible’s account that a supernatural event took place at the Last Supper and that the power to repeat that supernatural event was delegated to men through the Church is literally true? 


A teenager may ask: “But if the beginning of the Bible, that is, the account of our supernatural origins, should be interpreted allegorically to accommodate the claims of naturalism, why should other parts of it, such as supernatural transubstantiation, be interpreted literally?”


The Numbing Effect on the Faith of Youth
In his 2007 book, The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11: A Compendium and Defense of Traditional Catholic Theology on Origins, Fr. Victor Warkulwiz made an enormous contribution to the Church.  One of his observations seems appropriate to repeat here while considering the effect of conflicting information on the youth.
The theory of evolution has caused confusion in the minds of the young because it differs so much from what is in the Bible. They recognize the contradictions and are not sophisticated enough to rationalize them away. Pope Leo XIII said in Providentissimus Deus: “[F]or the young, if they lose their reverence for the Holy Scripture on one or more points, are easily led to giving up believing in it altogether. It need not be pointed out how the nature of science, just as it is so admirably adapted to show forth the glory of the Great Creator, provided it be taught as it should be, so, if it be perversely imparted to the youthful intelligence, it may prove most fatal in destroying the principles of true philosophy and in the corruption of morality.”


Here is an excerpt:

Young Catholics are leaving the faith at an early age – sometimes before the age of 10 – and their reasons are deeper than being “bored at Mass,” the author of a recent report claims.

“Those that are leaving for no religion – and a pretty big component of them saying they are atheist or agnostic – it turns out that when you probe a bit more deeply and you allow them to talk in their own words, that they are bringing up things that are related to science and a need for evidence and a need for proof,” said Dr. Mark Gray, a senior research associate at the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.
In exploring why young Catholics were choosing to leave the faith, he noted “an emerging profile” of youth who say they find the faith “incompatible with what they are learning in high school or at the university level.” In a perceived battle between the Catholic Church and science, the Church is losing.

And it is losing Catholics at a young age. “The interviews with youth and young adults who had left the Catholic Faith revealed that the typical age for this decision to leave was made at 13,” Gray wrote. “Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed, 63 percent said they stopped being Catholic between the ages of 10 and 17. Another 23 percent say they left the Faith before the age of 10.”


The notion of an earth billions of years old, which is espoused by Catholic evolutionists, has had a numbing effect on the faith of youth. It pushes God so far into the background of time that He’s barely visible and hardly seems relevant today. But the God of Genesis is up front. He created the world only a few thousand years ago and has lovingly and providentially followed, and intervened in, the history of mankind.
“What,” students may wonder, “was God doing during those billions of years?” Especially in his public school education, the student will be exposed to the concept that religion is just a cultural development of the pre-scientific age.   To resolve that cognitive dissonance caused by those questions some might decide to reject the Bible outright (and belief in God as we know Him).  And many have.   John West of the Discovery Institute published an article titled “Are Young People Losing Their Faith Because of Science?” in which he observed that his research 
suggests that if churches want to be effective in answering student questions about science and faith, they cannot wait until adulthood or rely on college ministries to do the job.  They need to be engaging young people on these issues when they are in middle school and high school, if not earlier.
Along that line of thinking is an article called “Creation—the ‘dealbreaker’ for today’s generation: Survey results surprise youth worker” which was written about Australia but applies equally to America.  Mentioned is a survey of religious beliefs of Generation Y (born after 1980), which showed that less than 50% of that group even believed that there was any sort of God, and that the single biggest reason that this generation gave for loss of faith was “doing further study, especially science.” (Mason, M, Singleton, A., and Webber, R., The Spirit of Generation Y, Mulgrave: John Garratt pub., 2007.) The article is online at creation.com/creation-dealbreaker


What those who have studied the loss of our youth have determined is that the “origins” questions raised by Humanist “science” must be countered very early. This means it is the duty of priests and parents. Priests have the control of parish facilities and can use them to promote and facilitate truth in natural science education. If priests lead, parents will follow.


My book, Creation, Evolution, and Catholicism: A Discussion for Those Who Believe is not hand wringing about how bad everything is. It is a blueprint for keeping our children Catholic by teaching them sound, modern natural science. Evolution is bogus. It is not scientific. My book will convince you of that and reinforce your faith in the Bible. Everything you need to expand your faith and knowledge is in the book.
Thomas L. McFadden