- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2007

BERLIN — Pope Benedict XVI has called for reconciling faith and reason when looking at the Earth’s creation, arguing that the theory of evolution has significant “gaps.”

A German book published this week, “Creation and Evolution,” records the pope’s reflections at a seminar in September at his summer palace in Castel Gandolfo outside Rome with a group of his former students.

Benedict cites “open questions” on Darwinism and the demands they make on followers of church doctrine.

“Not that I want to cram dear God in those gaps — he is too big to find enough space in those gaps,” he said.

Benedict quotes his predecessor John Paul II in saying that the theory of evolution is more than a hypothesis, but adds that it was “not yet a complete, scientifically verified theory.”

He said the teachings of evolution raised philosophical questions that “go beyond natural science,” noting that much of Darwinism cannot be proved because “10,000 generations cannot be brought into the laboratory.”

He is equally critical of science that excludes any mention of the divine.

“It is not a question of choosing a creationism that fundamentally shuts out science or an evolutionary theory that covers up its own gaps and does not want to look at the questions that extend beyond the methodological possibilities of natural science,” he said.

He said striking a balance in the debate between acknowledging the unknown, which is part of faith, and recognizing scientific findings was key in the modern world.

“Without that, faith would be banished to a ghetto and lose its meaning for the whole of reality and humanity,” he said.

For centuries, the Roman Catholic Church rejected scientific theories that it felt threatened its view of the creation of the universe, and some defenders of science were branded as heretics during the Inquisition.

But the church has distanced itself from some Christian fundamentalist groups that want to ban the teaching of the Darwinian theory of evolution.

Fundamentalist Christians insist on a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis in the Bible, in which God made the world in seven days, culminating in the creation of the first two humans, Adam and Eve.

A variation of this is called “intelligent design,” which acknowledges Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution but claims that genetic mutations are guided by God’s hand rather than by what the British biologist called the process of natural selection.

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