Creationism is an odd subject, in that it takes Scripture and tries to make it science, and then takes science and tries to make it Scripture.
Science is a methodological approach to gathering empirical evidence, combining it, describing it, and hypothesizing the conclusions that the evidence demonstrates. It then takes those hypotheses, and gathers more and more evidence to try to test its veracity. Finally, when overwhelming and vast evidence supports these conclusions, they can be amassed into a theory.
This is not the way Genesis was written, and it is not the way Genesis is interpreted. Genesis was inspired by the Holy Spirit, written by humans, and contains the truths of God, as does all of Scripture. But not all Scripture is written in the same literary form: the Bible contains myth, poetry, letters, etc. By reading Genesis as if it were a scientific explanation, the richness and fullness of its truth is severely misrepresented.
Science can only tell us how something occurs, the “what” instead of the “why.” Creationism is trying to take the “why,” theological conclusions about the nature of humankind, and interpret them as biology. In doing so, the science is compromised AND so is the theology. God is being given material restrictions; creationists are saying that God cannot be the creative force while employing the mechanism of evolution, effectively saying that an omnipotent being is only capable of working within a single interpretation of the book of Genesis.
Creationists call evolution a theory, and then dismiss it. To clarify, in science there is also “cell theory” and the “theory of gravity.” But we don’t see much opposition to those, because they are easily observable. Evolution is also observable, just not quite as simply. Distorting the Bible as all-encompassing ignores the beauty and richness of Tradition, passed on for almost two millennia since the biblical canon was completed. It is for this reason that the Church, in its intellectual tradition, encourages the pursuit of Truth in all disciplines, gathering knowledge in many ways to add to our understanding of God and His creation. The Bible is inspired by God, but the Word of God is a person, Jesus Christ. It is in His person, His teachings, and the tradition set forth by His apostles, in addition to the Scriptures, as well as that which can be ascertained from the nature God created, that the Church bases its theology.
In this promotion of the search for truth, the Catholic Church agrees with the science of evolution. Pope Francis made a comment to this effect to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in the fall of 2014, but the Church had endorsed these teachings in the encyclical Humani generis, released by Pope Pius XII in 1950. This is not a revolutionary statement, and in no way contradicts the rich tradition of the Church. It is in accordance with the history of a church that was instrumental in developing the university system, discovering how genes work, and creating the scientific method.
We cannot limit the infinite God to Scriptures. God is omnipotent and omnipresent. Scripture is a beautiful tool, but it is not God, and it does not encompass His power.
– Taylor Stewart
Taylor double-majored at Carroll College in Theology and Biology. She will be starting Medical School at University of Washington this Fall.