Teilhard, Evolution and the Catholic Church
It is not surprising that most Christians -- and particularly Catholics -- are unaware that the traditional teaching of the Church concerning the creation of mankind by God, with no genetic link between humans and beasts, is strongly supported by scientific evidence.
Many who seek to bridge the gap between Darwin's evolution and the Book of Genesis account of Creation erroneously contend that the Catholic Church's position is this: we are free to believe and teach evolution as long as we acknowledge that, at some time during the evolutionary process, God created and infused a soul into man's body.
This is untrue. And it is an untruth stemming from a deliberate perversion of the meaning of Pope Pius XII's important encyclical Humani Generis issued in 1950. In that encyclical, the Holy Father did not say the teaching of evolution is permissible under certain circumstances. In fact he said just the opposite.
What Humani Generis said was this: nothing more than discussion about the possibility of evolution of man from pre-existing matter is to be permitted. What is more, this discussion was to be restricted and limited to only those experts "in the human sciences and sacred theology" and these same experts were specifically forbidden to teach as an established fact that man's body evolved from a lower animal.
As has been the case on many issues over the past 25 years, certain self-serving Catholic scholars not only have ignored the guidelines set down in Humani Generis in their discussions of evolution, but have misrepresented what the encyclical said. For example, Father Robert North, S.J., has circulated this false line: "Many Catholics were among these (who believed in evolution) even before it was officially decreed in 1950 that bodily evolution is not incompatible with Church teaching." This statement appears in Father North's "Teilhard and the Creation of the Human Soul," a defense of the controversial Father Teilhard de Chardin, S.J. ...
Father Teilhard's major works have been emphatically rejected by the Vatican's Congregation of the Holy Office and a monitum (warning) that they contain grave errors was approved by Pope John XXIII in 1962. Nonetheless, his writings and theories are widely praised and used by many religious educators in high places today. As concerned parents realize, many catechetical problems in Catholic schools stem from adaptations of Teilhard's writings on evolution.
Who was Teilhard de Chardin (1881-1955) and what were his goals in life? Is he perhaps the "missing link" that explains much of the turmoil going on in the Church today? Father [Patrick O'Connell served with Teilhard in China for many years and sheds some light on these questions. ... while still a Jesuit student, Teilhard became a member of the exclusive Count Begouen circle at Toulouse, the object of which was to propagate Darwin's theory in France and to introduce it into the Catholic seminaries of Europe.
Father Teilhard became one of the most extreme and active propagandists for the evolutionists, and when he went to the Jesuit College of Hastings in England he was involved in promoting one of several frauds "proving" that man evolved from a lower animal form of life. The first fraud was the so-called Piltdown Man found by workers in a gravel pit--a skull of human shape with teeth said to be like those of an ape. Father Teilhard and other evolutionists used the Piltdown discovery for 40 years as "proof of the theory of evolution--until 1953 when it was discovered that the teeth of the ape-man were only a few years old, deceptively stained to give them the appearance of age. The skull was that of a human who had died thousands of years before.
Later, while in China, Father Teilhard became the champion of the so-called Peking Man--another attempt to "prove" that man evolved from a lower form of life. The discovery of the Peking Man, courtesy of a grant from the Rockefeller Institute, prompted Father Teilhard to invite his former professor, the famous evolutionist Marcellin Boule to China. Boule, one of the world's greatest authorities on fossil skulls, was enraged when he inspected what had been unearthed--some battered skulls of monkeys that had been killed and eaten by workmen at a limestone quarry thousands of years before.
As Father O'Connell tells it, the disheartened Father Teilhard nonetheless decided to keep these bones, "His secretary, a German lady, is alleged to have stated that Fr. Teilhard entrusted these fossils to her, and that she put them on board an American ship, after the Japanese had surrendered (following World War II), but that they 'disappeared.'" To this day the so-called Peking Man fossils have never been found. ...
Failing to present concrete evidence of any "missing link" between man and animal, Father Teilhard turned to explaining that "the machinery of evolution" is not based on any phenomena that can be observed. ...
Teilhard de Chardin's goal in life, as Father O'Connell points out, was "aimed at nothing less than bringing about a radical change in the teaching of the Catholic Church." ... So here is the man, Teilhard, the so-called great Catholic scholar and evolutionist who is highly praised by those who have misrepresented Humani Generis in order to subvert the Church's teachings.
"Some impudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved in the domain of natural sciences, explains the origin of all things, and audaciously support the monistic and pantheistic opinion that the world is in continual evolution," Pope Pius XII said in that encyclical, "Communists gladly subscribe to this opinion."
The fact that Father Teilhard appointed the late Sir Julian Huxley and Professor Gaylord Simpson, two militant atheists, among his literary executors leads Father O'Connell to state as follows:
After his death, an international committee composed mostly of atheists took over Father Teilhard's manuscripts and published them without the permission of the General of the Jesuits and without an imprimatur. The Jesuits get no share in the immense profits being made by the sale of these works; atheists like Sir Julian Huxley have used them for the propagation of atheism; Russian Communists have translated [them] into Russian. ...
Many Christians, especially young people, think of their religion as dull and boring. Why bother, they ask, if the Bible is a myth and we all evolved from apes? Unfortunately, such fallacies are being taught even in Catholic schools. Our Christian obligation demands that these ideas be challenged.
Reprinted from the Mindszenty Report, Vol. XIX, No. 4 (April 1977) P. O. Box 11321, Saint Louis, MO 63105