Evolution vs. Creation — parallel worlds?

ROME — The debate over the origin and development of life and the universe will be coming to Rome early November, but it won’t be taking place in the same hall. Two parallel conferences will be going on in different parts of the city.

The Vatican’s Pontifical Academy of Sciences is sponsoring an Oct. 31-Nov. 4 plenary session looking at the “Scientific Insights into the Evolution of the Universe and Life.”  Meanwhile, the French organization, “Centre d’Etudes et de Prospective sur la Science” (Center for Studies and Prospective on Science) will be sponsoring its own international gathering of scientists who oppose evolution at Rome’s city hospital, Umberto Policlinico. The U.S.-based Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation is also promoting the latter event.

According to a “Scientific Critique of Evolution” press release, the French association decided to hold its own conference after the pontifical academy “ignored the scientists’ request” to be invited to the Vatican session in order to present arguments against evolution.

It said the scientists emphasize they are not “creationists,” who take a literal interpretation of the biblical account of creation. Rather, the French association’s president, Dominque Tassot, says the theory of evolution has no scientific basis and that some scientific studies are showing the Earth may be much younger than widely thought.

Evolutionary theory has been getting lots of play at the Vatican recently and Pope Benedict XVI has often spoken how evolution “exists,” but cannot explain everything nor can it exclude a divine cause.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is hosting another conference next year to mark the 150th anniversary of the publication of Charles Darwin’s “The Origin of Species.” Since proponents of creationism or intelligent design have not been invited to speak at that event, fierce debate will be unlikely. Though it will be interesting to see if evolution-opponents create another parallel conference to coincide with it.

CNS Bible Blog: Luke – a great new energy source

By Fathers Glen Lewandowski, OSC, and Jerry Schik, OSC
Special to Catholic News Service

Father Jerry Schik, OSC

Father Schik

Father Lewandowski

Father Lewandowski

St. Luke was familiar with a great new energy source long before solar power or wind turbines or geothermal energy became a part of everyday conversation. His new energy source was spiritual and it came to him when he became a Christian. When he received the imposition of hands he was filled with the Holy Spirit and empowered to go forth and proclaim the Good News. He gave witness to this new energy source by emphasizing the work of the Holy Spirit. He mentioned the Holy Spirit 14 times in his Gospel — more than twice the number of references in Matthew and Mark combined.

His faith enabled him to see that the Holy Spirit gave strength to Zechariah so that he could proclaim a most important prophetic message: “God has raised up a mighty savior for us in the house of his servant David.” He saw the Holy Spirit giving energy and spiritual strength to John the Baptist during his years of fasting and praying in the desert. Luke said that the Holy Spirit kept Simeon alive until he could see the Messiah of the Lord. He described our savior’s temptations in the desert and how the Holy Spirit gave Jesus power so that he could emerge victorious over the devil. When Jesus began his public ministry while visiting the synagogue in Nazareth he was anointed by the Holy Spirit and the Holy Spirit gave him strength and ministry for his mission: “To bring Good News to the poor. To proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind. To let the oppressed go free. To proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord.” Then Jesus called forth disciples and apostles to help him with his mission and told them that the Holy Spirit would teach them what to say during times of persecution.

A painting at an old Franciscan convent in Bolivia shows the Holy Spirit descending upon disciples in native Bolivian dress. (CNS/Octavio Duran)

And this is where we come into the picture. We are the modern-day disciples who are sent forth on the same mission. And we find the challenge of that mission to be overwhelming until we remember what Pope John Paul II said in “Redemptoris Missio: “The Holy Spirit is the principle agent for mission.” The Holy Spirit will provide us with the strength we need to fulfill the mission of Christ, our savior. With that in mind I encourage you to read Luke’s Gospel once again. I think that you will see that the Holy Spirit is the never-ending energy source for those who serve the kingdom.

Synod note: “Come, Holy Spirit!” — the main prayer at the synod’s opening assembly.

The synod on the Word of God is just as much a synod on the Spirit of God. Word and Spirit, the right and left hands of God the Father, St. Irenaeus used to say. The Spirit is action-oriented. The spiritual action of the Holy Spirit, for readers, is aimed at appropriating the spirit of the Word. The Spirit helps us sense the spiritual sense of the Word.

Reading the words of the Bible is good, but just a cut below appropriating the Word in faith. The synod members invoked the Holy Spirit, on the church, also on all readers of the Word: Come!

Luke’s Gospel, often called the Gospel of Prayer, always has Jesus praying, full of the Holy Spirit, just before the most significant events that occur and before decisions he makes. Jesus is impressed with the Spirit of God early on (Lk 4:1) and the Spirit remains on him (4:18).

Come, Holy Spirit!