University hosts Catholicism and evolution conference

Maggie McCarron

Staff Writer

Franciscan University of Steubenville hosted a conference April 23-24 on how Catholics can accept the theory of evolution.

This conference, entitled “Evolution and a Catholic Understanding of Creation” featured various topics, such as the history of a scientific study of evolution, concrete evidence for evolution and how St. Irenaeus, St. Augustine and St. Thomas Aquinas would approach the modern theory of evolution.

These talks were given by both Franciscan University professors and various professors of sciences and philosophy with Catholic backgrounds.

Chris Baglow, director of the Science and Religion Initiative in the McGrath Institute for Church Life at the University of Notre Dame, gave a talk entitled “Human Sin and Modern Science. In this talk, Baglow talked about the idea of human nature from both a moral and scientific standpoint.

When discussing the modern scientific view of the nature of man, Baglow said, “Human beings are often times simply reduced to an evolutionary process.” This is an effect of human sin and its inclination to believe whatever is easiest to believe, Baglow said.

In the final talk, “The Paradox of Human Uniqueness and Darwinian Continuity,” given by Simon Conway Morris, a former professor of paleobiology at Cambridge University. Morris discussed the differences of man and animals and made a case that evolution is not random, but rather guided by God.

Morris said humans were able to discover there is more to reality than just material things, deeper realities that animals have not discovered, such as abstractions, mathematics, music and more.

Morris said men can teach each other how to perform tasks quickly — compared to the months or years it can take to train animals to do small tasks — and that men can use tools to make other tools, something that animals are incapable of, and that these two instances point to a providential evolution.

The conference was made possible in part by a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and was also sponsored by the Lumen Christi Institute and the Science and Religion Initiative of the McGrath Institute of Church Life at the University of Notre Dame.