Many Christians in the West are burdened with the unfortunate stereotype that all Christians assume the theory of evolution is wrong because it is incompatible with the Bible. Thanks to the relativistic nature of sola scriptura in protestantism–especially in America–and a media eager to make them the face of Christianity, those unaware of authentic Christianity (read: Catholicism) assume that all Christians read the Bible as a literal text. The media loves painting the picture that to be Christian means to read the book of Genesis as a scientific textbook.
The extremely misguided minority of Christians who burden us all with this damaging reputation would we well suited to learn about the contributions of the Church–priests especially–to the natural sciences such as the Big Bang and modern genetics. These Christians, along with every breathing person, would gain much from reading authors such as C.S. Lewis on the topic of the various literary styles and genres of different books in the Bible. Catholics need also be aware of the various papal statements going all the way back to Pope Pius XII on the matter.
This brings us to a passage I read today in an article discussing the importance of sound interpretation and the need for :
Unlike Protestants, Catholicism has Tradition (the Magisterium) to fall back on. Tradition informs us there are four senses of Scriptural comprehension that are used simultaneously: literal, spiritual (or anagogical), moral (or allegorical), and a meaning associated with human society (tropological). Thus, “Jerusalem,” when mentioned in the Bible, simultaneously is read to mean: a literal geographic city in the Middle East; heaven, since Jerusalem is the city of God (anagogic); an “upright” life (allegoric); and political rule, since Jerusalem was the capital of Israel (tropologic). Catholics, then, do not read Genesis literally, in the sense that the universe was created in six days or that Adam and Eve even existed. Instead, a Catholic reading of Genesis means that the universe (including time) was indeed created by God, but the Genesis recording of creation does not literally walk us through that process but is meant to be symbolic of it. Similarly, Adam and Eve are meant to symbolize humanity’s downfall, not that a “literal” Adam and Eve existed.
The sciences uncover how our ordered material world works…faith uncovers the meaning behind it. Until our protestant brethren cast aside their relativistic version of Christianity, we will continue to have this problem. Pray for them.
“Though faith is above reason, there can never be any real discrepancy between faith and reason. Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.”
“Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.”