Pope John Paul II and Me: ‘Truth Cannot Contradict Truth?’

Pope John Paul

Pope John Paul II

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

This article is a summary of the address of Pope John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences (October 22, 1996), as presented by the official Catholic website and my commentary.

After more than a century of struggle with the theory of evolution, as presented by Charles Darwin, the Pope was yielding to the truth contained in the theory.

I believe that the theory of evolution should be understood as three different issues. Firstly, the common ancestry of all animals and plants, secondly, the mechanisms for evolution and thirdly whether evolution is completely blind or guided in some sense. The truth of some facts in evolution does not imply the truth of every thing under the umbrella of evolution. The common ancestry of all animals and plants on our planet is a fact, which is beyond any doubt, for those well versed in the field of biology, especially molecular biology.  One needs to have a nuance position about evolution to be perfectly enlightened. The implications that common lineage has for the Creator or lack there of, is metaphysics and not science and for discussing science, we should limit ourselves to discussion of common ancestry.

I have reproduced Pope’s comments precisely, from the official Catholic website, with my comments between his paragraphs.  The presentation in the official Catholic website, has been given the title: Truth Cannot Contradict Truth, suggesting that the truth of the book of nature and the truth of the revealed book, they imply the Bible, cannot contradict each other.

By the term “the revealed book,” I imply both the Bible and the Quran.

There are seven segments in the substance of the Encyclical and each one is numbered, in the official website.

In this Encyclical the Pope recognizes the truth in the theory of evolution and tries to reconcile it with the Catholic Church’s history and tradition.

The thrust of my comments is to also recognize the scientific evidence for common ancestry of all life forms and to point out the elephant in the room, which was conveniently ignored by the Pope, namely, the bearing of the theory of evolution on the doctrine of Original Sin.

But, before we proceed with Pope’s comments and my response, a few words about Original Sin.

According to a Christian theological doctrine, original sin, also called ancestral sin,[1] is humanity’s state of sin resulting from the fall of man,[2] stemming from Adam’s rebellion in Eden. This condition has been characterized in many ways, ranging from something as insignificant as a slight deficiency, or a tendency toward sin yet without collective guilt, referred to as a “sin nature”, to something as drastic as total depravity or automatic guilt of all humans through collective guilt.[3]

The concept of original sin was first alluded to in the 2nd century by Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons in his controversy with certain dualist Gnostics. Other church fathers such as Augustine also developed the doctrine,[2] seeing it as based on the New Testament teaching of Paul the Apostle (Romans 5:12–21 and 1 Corinthians 15:22) and the Old Testament verse of Psalm 51:5.[4][5][6][7][8] Tertullian, Cyprian, Ambrose and Ambrosiaster considered that humanity shares in Adam’s sin, transmitted by human generation. Augustine’s formulation of original sin was popular among Protestant reformers, such as Martin Luther and John Calvin, who equated original sin with concupiscence, affirming that it persisted even after baptism and completely destroyed freedom.[2]

I had originally written about this issue, in the Religion and Science section of the Summer 2008 volume of Muslim Sunrise, the oldest Muslim publication of North America, in an article titled, Original Sin, which can be read here online in the Muslim Times.

Without further ado, here is the opening of Pope John Paul II, as he greets the audience.

Pope John Paul II: WITH GREAT PLEASURE I address cordial greeting to you, Mr. President, and to all of you who constitute the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, on the occasion of your plenary assembly. I offer my best wishes in particular to the new academicians, who have come to take part in your work for the first time. I would also like to remember the academicians who died during the past year, whom I commend to the Lord of life.

Zia H Shah MD

Zia Shah: I do not have any high-flying office, secular or religious, but, as the Bible tells us the following:

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.  (Matthew 5:3-7)

I am taking the liberty of creating this dialogue between me and the Pope and my response to the opening paragraph is “me too.”

I believe that “Truth,” is far more important than the office or the popularity of the person, who holds the “Truth,” or lack there of.  If the reader doubts my claim, I would remind him or her to recall, any number of “degenerate,” so called celebrities, whom he or she does not hold in high esteem and conversely many of your heroes who never had a large following during their life time. William Tyndale was burnt on the stake on 6 October 1536, for translating the Bible into English. A life ending in a death without glory and full of pain, torture and possibly shame. But, lo and behold, his dying prayer was that the King of England’s eyes would be opened; this seemed to find its fulfillment just two years later with King Henry’s authorization of the Great Bible for the Church of England, which was largely Tyndale’s own work. Hence, the Tyndale Bible, as it was known, continued to play a key role in spreading Reformation ideas across the English-speaking world and, eventually, to the British Empire.


Pope John Paul II: 1. In celebrating the 60th anniversary of the academy’s refoundation, I would like to recall the intentions of my predecessor Pius XI, who wished to surround himself with a select group of scholars, relying on them to inform the Holy See in complete freedom about developments in scientific research, and thereby to assist him in his reflections.

He asked those whom he called the Church’s “senatus scientificus” to serve the truth. I again extend this same invitation to you today, certain that we will be able to profit from the fruitfulness of a trustful dialogue between the Church and science (cf. Address to the Academy of Sciences, No. 1, Oct. 28, 1986; L’Osservatore Romano, Eng. ed., Nov. 24, 1986, p. 22).

Zia Shah: Pope John Paul II, has mentioned Pope Pius XI (1922-1939), but, the learned Catholics would also recall that Pope Pius XII (1939-1958), who held the office, just 20 years before John Paul’s ascendancy to the Papacy, had also opined about the theory of evolution, common ancestary and its ramifications.

Pius XII

Pope Pius XII

He had issued an Encyclical Letter, titled, Humani Generis, Concerning Some False Opinions Which Threaten to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine, on August 12, 1950 .

He accurately understood that if common ancestry be true, as Darwin proposes then Adam and Eve will not be the first human couple.  This would mean that not all of us have inherited the Original Sin and that would imply that the idea that Jesus had to die as atonement for the whole of humanity would fall apart.

Pius XII cautioned that he considered the jury still out on the question of evolution’s validity.  It should not be accepted, without more evidence, “as though it were a certain proven doctrine.”

The question before us is not only about evolution and the revealed word, but, also as to which of the two popes was “infallible?”

It seems that Pope John Paul II wanted to have both sides of the issue; as he was effectively closing the door that he was reluctantly opening, by stating that no matter what the scientific facts may be, he is keeping his “Original Sin.”  Read the clause 37 in Pope Pius XII encyclical:

When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is no no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.

Pope Pius XII insisted on a role for Adam, whom he believed committed a sin that mysteriously passed along through the doctrine of Original Sin; that had affected all subsequent generations.   He was not going to allow that there are any present day humans that are not the direct descendants of Adam, from 6000 years ago; otherwise he would lose his precious little doctrine of “Original Sin.”

Pope Pius XII left no stone unturned.  He also quoted the authority for his clause 37, both from the Bible and the Catholic tradition, by citing, Romans, 5:12-19 and Council of Trent, Session V, canon 1-4.

In the very next clause, which is clause 38 in this Encyclical, Pope Pius XII claims infallibility for the Bible, in slightly subtle terms:

Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament. Those who favor this system, in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer to the Letter which was sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies.[19] This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.

As the book of Romans in the New Testament, in chapter 5, preaches the doctrine of Original Sin as well as vicarious atonement, by the suicidal mission of Jesus, there is no going back from the traditional teachings, however strongly the Church may want to now minimize the teaching of Original Sin, since the European Enlightenment.  “The doctrine is the prerequisite for the Christian understanding of the meaning of Jesus’ crucifixion and atonement,” according to the Encyclopedia Britannica, “Despite its importance for understanding Jesus’ sacrifice, the doctrine of original sin has been minimized since the European Enlightenment.”

Pope John Paul II: 2. I am pleased with the first theme you have chosen, that of the origins of life and evolution, an essential subject which deeply interests the Church, since revelation, for its part, contains teaching concerning the nature and origins of man. How do the conclusions reached by the various scientific disciplines coincide with those contained in the message of revelation? And if, at first sight, there are apparent contradictions, in what direction do we look for their solution? We know, in fact, that truth cannot contradict truth (cf. Leo XIII, encyclical Providentissimus Deus). Moreover, to shed greater light on historical truth, your research on the Church’s relations with science between the 16th and 18th centuries is of great importance. During this plenary session, you are undertaking a “reflection on science at the dawn of the third millennium,” starting with the identification of the principal problems created by the sciences and which affect humanity’s future. With this step you point the way to solutions which will be beneficial to the whole human community. In the domain of inanimate and animate nature, the evolution of science and its applications give rise to new questions. The better the Church’s knowledge is of their essential aspects, the more she will understand their impact. Consequently, in accordance with her specific mission she will be able to offer criteria for discerning the moral conduct required of all human beings in view of their integral salvation.

Zia Shah: No comments.

Pope John Paul II: 3. Before offering you several reflections that more specifically concern the subject of the origin of life and its evolution, I would like to remind you that the magisterium of the Church has already made pronouncements on these matters within the framework of her own competence. I will cite here two interventions.

In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation, on condition that one did not lose sight of several indisputable points.

For my part, when I received those taking part in your academy’s plenary assembly on October 31, 1992, I had the opportunity with regard to Galileo to draw attention to the need of a rigorous hermeneutic for the correct interpretation of the inspired word. It is necessary to determine the proper sense of Scripture, while avoiding any unwarranted interpretations that make it say what it does not intend to say. In order to delineate the field of their own study, the exegete and the theologian must keep informed about the results achieved by the natural sciences (cf. AAS 85 1/81993 3/8, pp. 764-772; address to the Pontifical Biblical Commission, April 23, 1993, announcing the document on the The Interpretation of the Bible in the Church: AAS 86 1/81994 3/8, pp. 232-243).

Zia Shah: From where I stand, it seems to me that Pope John Paul II misread Pope Pius XII, as I have shown above that he did think that if Adam were not the father of all of humanity, then the doctrine of Original Sin and atonement did not hold any water.

The reason why the Church ran into difficulty with Galileo and later with Darwin was because the Bible is written by scores of writers, who had no idea about science and what science is going to find.  The book of Genesis was written centuries before Jesus, may peace be on him.  If Bible were the literal word of All Knowing God, like the Holy Quran, it would have escaped the criticism that has been leveled against it over the centuries, most prominently in our age of information.

Pope John Paul II: 4. Taking into account the state of scientific research at the time as well as of the requirements of theology, the encyclical Humani Generis considered the doctrine of “evolutionism” a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and in-depth study equal to that of the opposing hypothesis. Pius XII added two methodological conditions: that this opinion should not be adopted as though it were a certain, proven doctrine and as though one could totally prescind from revelation with regard to the questions it raises. He also spelled out the condition on which this opinion would be compatible with the Christian faith, a point to which I will return. Today, almost half a century after the publication of the encyclical, new knowledge has led to the recognition of the theory of evolution as more than a hypothesis. [Aujourdhui, près dun demi-siècle après la parution de l’encyclique, de nouvelles connaissances conduisent à reconnaitre dans la théorie de l’évolution plus qu’une hypothèse.] It is indeed remarkable that this theory has been progressively accepted by researchers, following a series of discoveries in various fields of knowledge. The convergence, neither sought nor fabricated, of the results of work that was conducted independently is in itself a significant argument in favor of this theory.

What is the significance of such a theory? To address this question is to enter the field of epistemology. A theory is a metascientific elaboration, distinct from the results of observation but consistent with them. By means of it a series of independent data and facts can be related and interpreted in a unified explanation. A theory’s validity depends on whether or not it can be verified; it is constantly tested against the facts; wherever it can no longer explain the latter, it shows its limitations and unsuitability. It must then be rethought.

Furthermore, while the formulation of a theory like that of evolution complies with the need for consistency with the observed data, it borrows certain notions from natural philosophy.

And, to tell the truth, rather than the theory of evolution, we should speak of several theories of evolution. On the one hand, this plurality has to do with the different explanations advanced for the mechanism of evolution, and on the other, with the various philosophies on which it is based. Hence the existence of materialist, reductionist and spiritualist interpretations. What is to be decided here is the true role of philosophy and, beyond it, of theology.

Zia Shah: I agree with the Pope that the common ancestry of all life forms on our planet is an established fact now, which is beyond any doubt, in light of the latest information, coming from several fields of inquiry.

I suggest two articles for those who do not yet know of the merit of scientific evidence in this regard:

Biogeography: One of the best proofs for Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution

Molecular Biology: A Checkmate to Creationism

Pope John Paul II: 5. The Church’s magisterium is directly concerned with the question of evolution, for it involves the conception of man: Revelation teaches us that he was created in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gn 1:27-29). The conciliar constitution Gaudium et Spes has magnificently explained this doctrine, which is pivotal to Christian thought. It recalled that man is “the only creature on earth that God has wanted for its own sake” (No. 24). In other terms, the human individual cannot be subordinated as a pure means or a pure instrument, either to the species or to society; he has value per se. He is a person. With his intellect and his will, he is capable of forming a relationship of communion, solidarity and self-giving with his peers. St. Thomas observes that man’s likeness to God resides especially in his speculative intellect, for his relationship with the object of his knowledge resembles God’s relationship with what he has created (Summa Theologica I-II:3:5, ad 1). But even more, man is called to enter into a relationship of knowledge and love with God himself, a relationship which will find its complete fulfillment beyond time, in eternity. All the depth and grandeur of this vocation are revealed to us in the mystery of the risen Christ (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 22). It is by virtue of his spiritual soul that the whole person possesses such a dignity even in his body. Pius XII stressed this essential point: If the human body take its origin from pre-existent living matter, the spiritual soul is immediately created by God (“animas enim a Deo immediate creari catholica fides nos retinere iubei”; “Humani Generis,” 36). Consequently, theories of evolution which, in accordance with the philosophies inspiring them, consider the spirit as emerging from the forces of living matter or as a mere epiphenomenon of this matter, are incompatible with the truth about man. Nor are they able to ground the dignity of the person.

Zia Shah: I agree.  Materialism does not explain human soul.  On the topic of soul, I suggest another of my articles: Human Soul: The Final Frontier?

However, my focus in this post is not human soul, but, simply the common ancestry of all life forms and as to who was the first man?  Were Adam and Eve, living six thousand years ago, the first human couple?

Homo erectus and Homo ergaster were the first of the hominina to leave Africa, and these species spread through Africa, Asia, and Europe between 1.3 to 1.8 million years ago. It is believed that these species were the first to use fire and complex tools. According to the Recent African Ancestry theory, modern humans evolved in Africa possibly from Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis or Homo antecessor and migrated out of the continent some 50,000 to 100,000 years ago, replacing local populations of Homo erectus, Homo denisova, Homo floresiensis and Homo neanderthalensis.[5][6][7][8][9]

Pope John Paul II: 6. With man, then, we find ourselves in the presence of an ontological difference, an ontological leap, one could say. However, does not the posing of such ontological discontinuity run counter to that physical continuity which seems to be the main thread of research into evolution in the field of physics and chemistry? Consideration of the method used in the various branches of knowledge makes it possible to reconcile two points of view which would seem irreconcilable. The sciences of observation describe and measure the multiple manifestations of life with increasing precision and correlate them with the time line. The moment of transition to the spiritual cannot be the object of this kind of observation, which nevertheless can discover at the experimental level a series of very valuable signs indicating what is specific to the human being. But the experience of metaphysical knowledge, of self-awareness and self-reflection, of moral conscience, freedom, or again of aesthetic and religious experience, falls within the competence of philosophical analysis and reflection, while theology brings out its ultimate meaning according to the Creator’s plans.

Zia Shah: I agree, the present day humans are not only product of material forces, but, revelation has played a major role historically in getting us where we are.  We have a collection of articles in our website, Islam for the West about revelation.

Pope John Paul II: 7. In conclusion, I would like to call to mind a Gospel truth which can shed a higher light on the horizon of your research into the origins and unfolding of living matter. The Bible in fact bears an extraordinary message of life. It gives us a wise vision of life inasmuch as it describes the loftiest forms of existence. This vision guided me in the encyclical which I dedicated to respect for human life, and which I called precisely “Evangelium Vitae.”

It is significant that in St. John’s Gospel life refers to the divine light which Christ communicates to us. We are called to enter into eternal life, that is to say, into the eternity of divine beatitude. To warn us against the serious temptations threatening us, our Lord quotes the great saying of Deuteronomy: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God” (Dt 8:3; cf. Mt 4:4). Even more, “life” is one of the most beautiful titles which the Bible attributes to God. He is the living God.

Zia Shah: Unfortunately, the Pope’s claim, “the Bible in fact bears an extraordinary message of life,” is not precisely true.  As thirteen of the twenty seven books of the New Testament, are attributed to St. Paul and gave us a false doctrine of atonement through Jesus’ dying on the cross for our sins.

The falsity of atonement through “suicidal mission” of Jesus is being exposed by the modern day science, especially biology and the Christians may want to ignore the elephant in the room, but, the Muslims cannot let this key issue brushed under the carpet.

The Prophet Adam, who lived approximately 6000 years ago was not the first man and was not the forefather of all us alive today.  This is what the theory of evolution means for me and should mean for every thinking person, especially for those who are not obsessed with the person of Jesus of Nazareth.

Today, as the well informed Muslims, the scientists and the atheists keep pushing the facts about evolution and the natural ramifications and implications of the theory, the Christians will finally awaken to the fullest consequences of the facts of evolution, they will stop going unknowingly on their way. They will give up the irrational parts of their faith, namely, Trinity, Original Sin and Atonement.  One can hope and expect a big exodus in this century of free information.  One can hope and pray that as they find the fundamental beliefs of Christianity counter to their rationality they will increasingly become Muslims.  The older Christians are too set in their ways and they cannot change.  But the 18-29 year olds, who are presently religiously unaffiliated who are comfortable voting in political life across the racial and gender lines will be open to study Islam and will find that the linking of the faith of the Muslims to violence was after all only propaganda, the last ploy against Islam!  The less fortunate ones will give up even the rational parts of their Christian faith, namely God the Father, His revelations over the millennia, their influence on human history, His Moral code and His consolation in the time of need and horror and slip into the atheistic camp.

Once we clean, Christianity of the false doctrines of Trinity, Original Sin, Atonement, and Monasticism introduced by St.  Paul and St. Augustine then what remains is purely a true subset of Islam.

What wonderful news for bringing more than 3 billion people, Muslims and Christians, almost half the world population together!

An increasing number of Americans are realizing that the Bible is not the literal word of God: Americans No Longer Believe the Bible to be Literal Word of God.

It is only for the, Divinely revealed,[i] [ii] historically preserved[iii] and scientifically accurate[iv] [v] Quran that the compliment can be extended, ‘Truth Cannot Contradict Truth!’  The Holy Quran says about itself that had it been from anyone other than Allah they would surely have found therein much contradiction.[vi]    It is only the precisely recorded and properly understood words of All Knowing God that are free of contradictions and misinformation and are fully in keeping with His ‘works’ which are studied in science.[vii]

Pope John Paul II: I cordially invoke an abundance of divine blessings upon you and upon all who are close to you.

Zia Shah: Me too.

Additional Reading:


[i] http://www.alislam.org/library/books/ISLAM-ItsMeaningForModernMan.pdf

[ii] http://www.alislam.org/quran/

[iii] http://www.alislam.org/egazette/eGazette-Feb2008.pdf

[iv] http://home.swipnet.se/islam/quran-bible.htm

[v] http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/index.html

[vi] The Holy Quran 4:83.

[vii] The Holy Quran 30:31.

Additional References:

1. http://www.newadvent.org/library/docs_jp02tc.htm

2. http://www.muslimsunrise.com/dmddocuments/2008_iss_2.pdf#page=21

40 replies

  1. Evolution, as far as the common ancestry is concerned is a scientific truth and Original Sin was the make belief created by St. Paul and seconded by St. Augustine and other Church Fathers and now we know it is not true.

    According to Islam all children are born innocent.

  2. Zia Shah, I have tried to make sense out of the post you referred me to.
    One major claim is that muhammadanism is in tandem with evolution. That is quite obvious.It is only through the process of evolution that human beings can become descendants of apes and swine and can also revert to that state, according to the quran. It will be on that score that evolution and muhammadanism coincide. But then, having read the quran repeatedly, I have come across the word “CREATION” or its derivatives numerous times. There is a very strong propagation of creationism in the quran.
    Advocating evolution shows the fluidity of muhammadanism. The scientific world is screaming ‘evolution’ today. To get along and be seen as conforming with science, muhammadanism also screams ‘evolution’. There is a growing number of scientists who have openly expressed doubts about darwinism. Some have chosen to distance themselves from it. If and when those doubters gain ascendancy, the muhammadans will change their tune and denounce evolution. HOW VERY DESPICABLE!
    You have problems with the fact that Jesus died an atoning death. But the quran calls HIM the ‘Messiah’. What exactly does that word mean to you? You mentioned that ‘suicidal death’ is against the weight of scientific evidence. What branch of science is that?
    It is laughable to hear you deride the Holy Bible which the quran describes as “THE BOOK” of enlightenment(SEE SURA 5:44-48) . Your allah said that it sent down the Torah, Gospels, Psalms and the Prophets. It then went on to enjoin the illiterate one and his followers that on the scriptures they are ignorant about, they should ask the ‘people of the book’. Who are these? The Jews and Christians.
    You now claim that Adam and Eve were not the only original parents.Who were the others? As a muhammadan, use the quran to prove your point. Or is that one of the allegorical provisions whose meaning is known to allah only, like the spirit and the soul?
    A debate on original sin and the contradictions in the Bible and the quran is highly welcome. I look forward to it.
    It is interesting to see you fantasize about Christians leaving in torrents to swell the ranks of muhammadanism and increase its number to 3 billion. I do not engage in speculations. In any case, it is said that there are 2 billion Christians and 1.5 billion muhammadans. If the two groups “come together” the number will be 3.5 billion, what do you call them? Perhaps, “chrislams” will be appropriate.
    Having gone through your much vaunted reservoir of knowledge, I cannot even see potato seedlings there.

  3. Namelee

    I have moved your comment to this post, where it is more appropriate.

    Different sects of Muslims may have different understanding about evolution. However, Ahmadiyya Muslim Community believes that evolution is true and the Holy Quran is in line with the concepts of Guided Evolution.

    If you want an honest and reasonable discussion, so we learn something from each other, then please use the word Islam rather than Muhammadanism, to reflect centuries old biases.

    Please also let us know, which denomination of Christianity you belong to, so we can answer you better.

  4. In the hadiths both Muhammad and Aisha referred to “the followers of Muhammad”. That does not reflect any centuries old bias. If I use the term “muhammadanism” or “muhammadans”, I am only following in their footsteps.
    I am a Christian and the issue of denomination does not matter.

  5. The concept of original sin is not a Pauline doctrine. It was in the Old Testament before Paul. Psalm 55:5 says “BEHOLD, I WAS BROUGHT FORTH IN INIQUITY, AND IN SIN DID MY MOTHER CONCEIVE ME”.
    Original sin means that one is born with the guilt of the sin committed by our first parents or the Adamic nature of man.
    The doctrine is even more prevalent in muhammadanism.
    In Bukhari 4:55:547 It is said that meat would not go bad had it not been for the Israelites and no woman would betray her husband had it not been for Eve. So,every Israelite is held responsible for meat going bad, irrespective of the time, because of what his/her forbears had done. Equally, for as long as one is a woman, she is guilty of Eve’s betrayal of her husband.
    Muslim 003:0380 No human being can regain residence of the garden of Eden because of Adam’s sin which caused him to be turned away.
    Bukhari 033:6436 Allah created some people for hell while they were still in the loins of their fathers. Why? Simply because of the Adamic nature.
    Sura7;24 “HE SAID: ‘GO HENCE AND MAY YOUR DESCENDANTS BE ENEMIES TO EACH OTHER”‘ Why were the offspring put at perpetual enmity if not for the sin of their father?
    Tabari 1:298 As a result of Adam’s head(he was ’30 meters’ tall) brushing against the heaven, he became bald and passed this on to his children. This means that everyone who is bald derives that from Adam. If he passed on the gene of baldness, what topped him from passing on the sins he committed?
    Sura 43:75 “–BUT BECAUSE YOU HAVE DONE WRONG, THAT OTHERS WILL SHARE YOUR PUNISHMENT WILL NOT AVAIL YOU ON THAT DAY-. Others are punished for the sin of one man they did not even know or see.
    If St Paul was wrong on original sin, so are the quran and the hadiths which have promoted the same theme.

  6. Over the centuries the Jews have never read Original Sin, in the Old Testament.

    To read Original Sin in the Old Testament now may be creative, but not historically or theologically true.

    How, the Jews and the Christians read the Bible, gives us a host of ideas, about the truth of Islamic theology, as is suggested by the following verse of the Holy Quran:

    And the Jews say, ‘The Christians stand on nothing;’ and the Christians say, ‘The Jews stand on nothing;’ while they both read the same Book. Even thus said those who had no knowledge, like what they say. But Allah shall judge between them on the Day of Resurrection concerning that wherein they disagree. (Al Quran 2:114)

  7. Zia Shah,
    The quran enjoins you to consult the ‘people of the book’. If what they believe stands on nothing, would the quran have asked you to consult them?

  8. Which verse of the Holy Quran do you have in mind. In this thread can we please, mostly limit ourselves to Original Sin and the subject of the post, which is evolution and its ramifications on the Christian theology.

    Rather than you saying Christianity is good and Islam is bad and I yelling the reverse, let us have a focused discussion on the subjects I mentioned.

  9. Here’s what Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) ‘enjoins’ to the multitude, and to his follower:

    [cf. Matthew 23:1-3 King James Version (KJV)]

    23:1 Then spake Jesus to the multitude, and to his disciples,

    23:2 Saying The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat:

    23:3 All therefore whatsoever they bid you observe, that observe and do; but do not ye after their works: for they say, and do not.

    A question could be asked in this case: If what they believe stands on nothing, would Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) have asked the multitude, and his follower to, ‘consult’ them?

    You can start with what the scribes and the Pharisees sitting in Moses’ seat bid you observe about circumcision.

  10. Of course, as the Chief Editor of The Muslim Times, Zia H. Shah, said, one should limit oneself to the Original Sin, the topic of the post.

    What do the scribes and the Pharisees sitting in Moses’ seat bid you observe about the Original Sin?

    That observe and do.

  11. Zia Shah,
    I follow your lead. But if in the course of your comment you raise an issue outside the topic which requires a response, of course I will naturally have to response to it.

  12. Zia Shah,
    (Mahmud Y. Zayid’s version, page 193 quoted verbatim).

  13. The general understanding of the Muslims about the Torah and the Injil is that God revealed them, but, did not bless them with preservation. As these were to be superseded by the Holy Quran.

    Over the centuries the Christians have been claiming that the Holy Quran is copied from the Bible and they have been insisting that the Bible is the literal word of God.

    But, how can you copy from something that is self contradictory and hundreds if not thousands of contradictions in the Bible have now been clearly exposed?

    Now the cat is out of the bag and university based Christian scholars have nicely demonstrated the limitations of the Bible.

    Any one who likes to be a Christian apologist, should first read all the books by Prof. Bart Ehrman and should have a good answer for his criticism, not a make belief one.

    Otherwise they should genuinely and humbly try to find the truth about the Holy Quran, as claimed by the Muslims, to be the literal word of God.

    Prof. Bart Ehrman on the Bible’s Authors

    When will the Christians Start Reading the Holy Quran?

    Misquoting Jesus: The Story Behind Who Changed the Bible and Why

    Now, the Bible versus the Quran debate we can take to appropriate posts linked above and here return to the theme of this post.

    Namelee, I am very hopeful that one of these days, you or at least other Christian readers of the Muslim Times, will follow, Sir Francis Bacon’s advice, “Read not to contradict … but to weigh and consider.”

  14. The Holy Quran, Chapter 16: Al-Nahl, Verses 44 and 45, with English Translation by Maulvi Sher Ali (ra), and with words in parentheses from Tafseer Sagheer by Hadhrat Khalifatul Masih the Second, Al-Musleh Al-Mauood, (ra):

    [16:44] And We sent not as Messengers before thee but men to whom We sent revelation, so (O ye disbelievers!) ask those who possess the Reminder, if you know not.

    [16:45] We sent Our Messengers with clear Signs and Scriptures. And We have sent down to thee the Reminder that thou mayest explain to mankind that which has been sent down to them (through thee), and that they may reflect.

  15. Zia Shah,
    I do not need anybody to tell me about the quran. I have read and understood it perfectly. There is nothing in it that remotely suggests to any impartial reader that God has something to do with the quran let alone its being HIS literal. You talk about contradictions in the Bible but forget the uncountable ones in the quran. If contradictions, as you say, disqualify the Bible from being the literal word of God, then the quran stands even more disqualified.
    Sura 1 is said to be the mother of all the suras. But what does one see? Allah calls on others to “let us worship allah” and then allah seeks to be guided along the right or correct path. That is the literal word of God?
    Zia, I don’t need any education on the quran.
    I have already said that I follow your lead. Whatever debate you want to initiate, I will follow.

  16. Ikhan’
    I have already said that Mahmud Y. Zayid’s version of the quran I quoted verbatim from was approved by the supreme Sunni and Shii councils of the Republic of Lebanon.
    If you have any issues to join, then do that with the people who wrote and approved that version.

  17. The Holy Quran was revealed to the Holy Prophet Muhammad, over a period of 22 years. So, it is coming from one mind, Allah or the Prophet, even if you are a skeptic. So, at least it has one source.

    Any alleged, “contradictions,” in the Holy Quran are a result of lack of understanding of the reader.

    The Bible on the other hand is made of scores of books with multiple authors, spread over decades and centuries, if you have read the recent University based scholars of the Bible and contradictions are inherent in the process, coming from multiple human minds, of diverse experience and background.

    Additionally, if a book is not preserved, then it becomes self contradictory, a criticism that does not apply to the Quran, which actually claims:

    Will they not, then, meditate upon the Qur’an? Had it been from anyone other than Allah, they would surely have found therein much disagreement. (Al Quran 4:83)

    The Holy Quran has rectified countless errors of the Bible, which we will keep documenting here over time.

    For, unbiased readers let me suggest:

    The Holy Quran as the Miracle of the Holy Prophet

    Dear Namelee, please do not take it as a debate, but, as a dialogue, which will probably help other readers more than us, as it seems that we have made up our mind, for whatever good or bad reasons!

  18. No Original Sin

    The Holy Quran : Chapter 7: Al-A`raf الاٴعرَاف, Verse 25, with English Translation by Maulvi Sher Ali (ra):

    [7:25] He said, ‘Go forth, some of you being enemies of others. And for you there is an abode on the earth and a provision for a time.’

  19. No Original Sin

    The Holy Quran : Chapter 7: Al-A`raf الاٴعرَاف, Verses 173 1nd 174, with English Translation by Maulvi Sher Ali (ra):

    [7:173] And when thy Lord brings forth from Adam’s children — out of their loins — their offspring and makes them witnesses against their own selves by saying: ‘Am I not your Lord?’ They say, ‘Yea, we do bear witness.’ This He does lest you should say on the Day of Resurrection, ‘We were surely unaware of this.’

    [7:174] Or lest you should say, ‘It was only our fathers who attributed co-partners to God in the past and we were merely a generation after them. Wilt Thou then destroy us for what was done by those who lied?’

  20. No Original Sin

    The Holy Quran : Chapter 43: Al-Zukhruf الزّخرُف, Verses 39 and 40:

    [43:39] Till, when such a one comes to Us, he says to his companion, ‘Would that between me and thee were the distance of the East and the West!’ What an evil companion is he!

    [43:40] ‘Having transgressed as you did, your being partner in punishment will be of no avail to you this day.’

    1. Chapter 43, Verse 39: English Translation by Maulvi Sher Ali (ra)
    2. Chapter 44, Verse 40: English Translation by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih the Fourth (rahimahulla)

  21. Correction:

    2. Chapter 43, Verse 40: English Translation by Hadhrat Mirza Tahir Ahmad, Khalifatul Masih the Fourth (rahimahulla)

  22. The Quran was revealed to Muhammad s.a.w.s. Its language is clear Arabic. The name of religion is not based on any city, place or country or person. The name of the faith is ISLAM. i.e. Peace. We Ahmadi Muslims believe that the religion of all prophets was Islam. Islam did not originate with Muhammad s.a.w.s. The faith of the prophet Jesus was also Islam.

    In Quran, It was advised to consult the people of the book that is the Jews and the Christians. This advice was not for the Muslims. It was addressed for the non-Muslims and polytheists.

    If one man has got a different Quran, it means nothing because only one version of the Quran is available in all countries of the world. It is silly to take shelter behind the Quran held by one person.

  23. No Alleged Original Sin

    Sahih Bukhari, Volume 6, Hadeeth Number 3330, pdf page 169 of 518, on alislam.org (also referenced as Bukhari 4:55:547, elsewhere):

    “If it was not for Bani Israel, the meat would not stink (or alter in odour), and if it was not for Eve, a woman would not be dishonest to her husband.”

    The narration number 3330 belongs to the category Israaeeliyyaat (i.e., narratives injected by Israelites). When Bani Israel were in the desert, they used to keep in storage the meat obtained from the birds and animals. This caused stink. That is how the process of storing the meat started.

    The dishonesty of Eve (peace be on her) mentioned in this narration refers to the forbidden fruit she encouraged Adam (peace be on him) to eat, as it is mentioned in Torah. Confer Genesis Chapter 3.

    It is not mentioned in the Holy Qura’an.

    [Extracted from the commentary on pdf page 182 of 518]

  24. Ghulam Sarwar,
    I do not speak Arabic and miss nothing. But from those who speak and understand it well, they say that “islam” means submission, not peace. The latter, they say, is ‘salam’ in Arabic. Therefore, islam means total submission to the will of allah aka Muhammad.
    I drew your attention to the verse in the hadith where Muhammad and Aisha referred to “THE FOLLOWERS OF MUHAMMAD”. If he did not want that characterization, why did he and his favorite wife use it? They could have said ‘followers’ of allah or whatever. Muhammad set up a personal enterprise.
    Jesus was not a follower of islam for there was no such thing in his time. It is not possible to subscribe to what does not exist. More importantly, he did not recite the shahada, which is compulsory for all those in or coming into your faith. There was no Muhammad for Jesus to have proclaimed as allah’s prophet and no provision excludes any muhammadan, past, present or future from reciting the islamic creed.
    I suggest you go back and read sura 16(The Bee):45 again. If, according to you, that message was meant for the ‘non-Muslims’ who in your opinion, are the Jews and Christians, why would Muhammad have been told to tell them to learn from themselves? How do you learn from yourself? You cannot hide what is so glaring.
    Do you agree that there are different versions of the quran? Every one writes according to his understanding.So, the version I quoted from is very valid given the authorities who approved it.

  25. Ikhan,
    Are you saying that Israelites injected no 3330 into hadith Bukhari? They must have extra ordinary powers to have written your revered works.
    What the writer is saying is that before the Israelites, there was no contamination of food. They brought about it. For that reason, every Israelite is held responsible. Similarly, women inherited the gene of betraying their husbands from the action of Eve. That is the concept of original sin pure and simple and you have further confirmed it. The same response goes for all the other arguments you unsuccessfully made.

  26. No Alleged Original Sin

    [Sahih Muslim,Volume 1, Hadeeth {195} 280, pdf pages 238 to 240, from Sahih-Muslim-01.pdf on alislam.org , (referenced as Muslim 001.0380, elsewhere)]

    The Messenger of Allah, blessing and peace of Allah be on him, (رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم), said,

    “Allah, تَبَارَكَ وَتَعَالَى, will gather people. Then, the believers will stand till the Jannah (الْجَنَّة) is brought near for them.

    They will come to Adam and say, ‘O our father! Get the Jannah (الْجَنَّة) opened for us.’ He will ask, ‘What got you out of the Jannah (الْجَنَّة), except for the fault (خَطِيئَةُ) of your father Adam? I am not in a position to do that (لَسْتُ بِصَاحِبِ ذَلِكَ). Go to my son Abraham the Friend of Allah (إِبْرَاهِيمَ خَلِيلِ اللَّهِ).’

    He (i.e., رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم) said, Abraham (إِبْرَاهِيم) would say, ‘I am not in a position to do that (لَسْتُ بِصَاحِبِ ذَلِكَ). I am the Friend (خَلِيلاً), but beyond (this position). You should intend to go to Moses, blessing and peace of Allah be on him, who spoke with Allah particularly.’

    They will come to Moses, blessing and peace of Allah be on him. He will say, ‘I am not in a position to do that (لَسْتُ بِصَاحِبِ ذَلِكَ). Go to Jesus, the Word of Allah, and His Spirit.’

    Jesus, blessing and peace of Allah be on him, will say, ‘I am not in a position to do that (لَسْتُ بِصَاحِبِ ذَلِكَ).’

    Then, they will come to Muhammad, صلى الله عليه وسلم. He will stand. Then, He will be given the permission (فَيَقُومُ فَيُؤْذَنُ لَهُ) (to open the Jannah الْجَنَّة). Trust (i.e., fulfillment of duties) and kinship will be sent. They will stand to the right and left of the Path (الصِّرَاط). Then, the first ones of you will pass like lightning.”

    (The Hadeeth continues.)

  27. The Holy Prophet Muhammad, blessing and peace of Allah be on him, (رَسُولُ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم), used the word ‘أُمَّة’. The word same is used in relation to the Holy Messengers and Servants of God Almighty in the Jewish Scriptures. The word ‘أُمَّة’ is the appropriate Proper Noun for ‘أُمَّة’.

  28. The Hebrew equivalent of Arabic word (أُمَّة) is (am·māh = עַמָּ֨ה).

    The word Israel or Yisrael is (yiś•rā•’êl = יִשְׂרָאֵ֜ל) in Hebrew.

    Now, no God fearing person should coin the word ‘yiś·rā·’êl-ism’ or ‘Yisraelism’ or ‘Israelism’ from it because of the usage of the word (am·māh = עַמָּ֨ה) in the Jewish Scriptures.

  29. Ikhan,
    The matter is rather simple. What has kept the children of Adam out of janna is the sin of their father Adam but not their own sin. The children have not committed any sin for which they are being punished. It is because of what their father did. What further proof of original sin can you get than that? Thanks for supporting my point.

  30. Well, according to the third chapter of Genesis, labor pain started in women because of the Original Sin or ‘fall’ of Adam and Eve, but, we know that all Neanderthals, apes, monkeys and all mammals had it before Eve. And of course, all the women who preceded Eve also had it.

    Thanks to Charles Darwin, we now know better.

    It is very unfortunate that people stick to their old beliefs, even when new information, exposes their fallacy.

    The “Fall of Man” and Anthropology

    By Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918)

    The Church has somehow survived the fierce blows from the development of science especially the theory of evolution. The fundamental doctrine of ‘Original Sin’ lost all its philosophical footing with the scientific revolution as evidence piled in the fields of geology, archaeology and biology. The Church, however, has been able to successfully ignore the evidence or push it under the rug and away from the consciousness of the masses. The dogmas of Christianity seem to have survived the blows of Darwinian evolution. But they cannot survive the evolution of printing press into internet and websites, as that allows for the skeletons and demons to revisit centuries later and often!

    Here, we reproduce a chapter of a book by Andrew Dickson White, detailing the geological and biological evidence against the doctrine of the fall of man or Original Sin. He was the founding President of Cornell University and published his book A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, in 1896. You can read this chapter online at alislam.org.

  31. hi im my name is davian,

    i read all ur debates,

    ur all sinners

    as u fight to shame each others, is nt any of god teaching, for muslim u talk bout spanish war ,WW2,
    ,,don u forget the latest crimes are among all from ur nation of muslim ,,,u have not dare to fight fair ,u make allah name shame ,,as u do terrorist, u among u kind are not unite,,, u talk bout god jesus, as far im know ,,u still sinners u never going to know unless u die and find the truth there,

  32. Davian: Please keep reading The Muslim Times. You will find that we are equally against all forms of terrorism and murder. Our motto is ‘Love for All and Hatred for None’.

  33. Humani Generis
    His Holiness Pope Pius XII
    Encyclical Letter Concerning Some False Opinions Which Threaten to Undermine the Foundations of Catholic Doctrine

    August 12, 1950
    To Our Venerable Brethren, Patriarchs, Primates, Archbishops, Bishops and Other Local Ordinaries Enjoying Peace and Communion With the Holy See.
    Venerable Brethren, Greetings and Apostolic Benediction!
    Disagreement and error among men on moral and religious matters have always been a cause of profound sorrow to all good men, but above all to the true and loyal sons of the Church, especially today, when we see the principles of Christian culture being attacked on all sides.
    2. It is not surprising that such discord and error should always have existed outside the fold of Christ. For though, absolutely speaking, human reason by its own natural force and light can rrive at a true and certain knowledge of the one personal God, Who by His providence watches over and governs the world, and also of the natural law, which the Creator has written in our hearts, still there are not a few obstacles to prevent reason from making efficient and fruitful use of its natural ability. The truths that have to do with God and the relations between God and men, completely surpass the sensible order and demand self-surrender and self-abnegation in order to be put into practice and to influence practical life. Now the human intellect, in gaining the knowledge of such truths is hampered both by the activity of the senses and the imagination, and by evil passions arising from original sin. Hence men easily persuade themselves in such matters that what they do not wish to believe is false or at least doubtful.
    3. It is for this reason that divine revelation must be considered morally necessary so that those religious and moral truths which are not of their nature beyond the reach of reason in the present condition of the human race, may be known by all mean readily — with a firm certainty and with freedom from all error.[1]
    4. Furthermore the human intelligence sometimes experiences difficulties in forming a judgment about the credibility of the Catholic faith, notwithstanding the many wonderful external signs God has given, which are sufficient to prove with certitude by the natural light of reason alone the divine origin of the Christian religion. For man can, whether from prejudice or passion or bad faith, refuse and resist not only the evidence of the external proofs that are available, but also the impulses of actual grace.[2]
    5. If anyone examines the state of affairs outside the Christian fold, he will easily discover the principle trends that not a few learned men are following. Some imprudently and indiscreetly hold that evolution, which has not been fully proved even 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. Communists gladly subscribe to this opinion so that, when the souls of men have been deprived of every idea of a personal God, they may the more efficaciously defend and propagate their dialectical materialism.
    6. Such fictitious tenets of evolution which repudiate all that is absolute, firm and immutable, have paved the way for the new erroneous philosophy which, rivaling idealism, immanentism and pragmatism, has assumed the name of existentialism, since it concerns itself only with existence of individual things and neglects all consideration of their immutable essences.
    7. There is also a certain historicism, which attributing value only to the events of man’s life, overthrows the foundation of all truth and absolute law, both on the level of philosophical speculations and especially to Christian dogmas.
    8. In all this confusion of opinion it is some consolation to Us to see former adherents of rationalism today frequently desiring to return to the fountain of divinely communicated truth, and to acknowledge and profess the word of God as contained in Sacred Scripture as the foundation of religious teaching. But at the same time it is a matter of regret that not a few of these, the more firmly they accept the word of God, so much the more do they diminish the value of human reason, and the more they exalt the authority of God the Revealer, the more severely do they spurn the teaching office of the Church, which has been instituted by Christ, Our Lord, to preserve and interpret divine revelation. This attitude is not only plainly at variance with Holy Scripture, but is shown to be false by experience also. For often those who disagree with the True Church complain openly of their disagreement in matters of dogma and thus unwillingly bear witness to the necessity of a living Teaching Authority.
    9. Now Catholic theologians and philosophers, whose grave duty it is to defend natural and supernatural truth and instill it in the hearts of men, cannot afford to ignore or neglect these more or less erroneous opinions. Rather they must come to understand these same theories well, both because diseases are not properly treated unless they are rightly diagnosed, and because sometimes even in these false theories a certain amount of truth is contained, and, finally, because these theories provoke more subtle discussion and evaluation of philosophical and theological truths.
    10. If philosophers and theologians strive only to derive such profit from the careful examination of these doctrines, there would be no reason for any intervention by the Teaching Authority of the Church. However, although We know that Catholic teachers generally avoid these errors, it is apparent, however, that some today, as in Apostolic times, desirous of novelty, and fearing to be considered ignorant of recent scientific findings, try to withdraw themselves from the Sacred Teaching Authority and are accordingly in danger of gradually departing from revealed truth and of drawing others along with them into error.
    11. Another danger is perceived which is all the more serious because it is more concealed beneath the mask of virtue. There are many who, deploring disagreement among men and intellectual confusion, through an imprudent zeal for souls, are urged by a great and ardent desire to do away with the barrier that divides good and honest men; these advocate an “eirenism” setting aside the questions which divide men, they aim not only at joining forces to repel the attacks of atheism, but also at reconciling things opposed to one another in the field of dogma. And as in former times some questioned whether the traditional apologetics That branch of the science of theology which explains the reasons for the Church’s existence and doctrine of the Church did not constitute an obstacle rather than a help to the winning of souls for Christ, so today some are presumptuous enough to question seriously whether theology and theological methods, such as with the approval of ecclesiastical authority are found in our schools, should not only be perfected, but also completely reformed, in order to promote the more efficacious propagation throughout the world among men of every culture and religious opinion.
    12. Now if these only aimed at adapting ecclesiastical teaching and methods to modern conditions and requirements, through the introduction of some new explanations, there would be scarcely any reason for alarm. But some through enthusiasm for an imprudent “eirenicism” seem to consider as an obstacle to the restoration of fraternal union, things founded on the laws and principles given by Christ and likewise on institutions founded by Him, or which are the defense and support of the integrity of the faith, and the removal of which would bring about the union of all, but only to their destruction.
    13. These new opinions, whether they originate from a reprehensible desire of novelty or from a laudable motive, are not always advanced in the same degree, with equal clarity nor in the same terms, nor always with unanimous agreement of their authors. Theories that today are put forward rather covertly by some, not without cautions and distinctions, tomorrow are openly and without moderation proclaimed by others more audacious, causing scandal[3] to many, especially among the young clergy and to the detriment of ecclesiastical authority. Though they are usually more cautious in their published works, they express themselves more openly in their writings intended for private circulation and in conferences and lectures. Moreover, these opinions are disseminated not only among members of the clergy and in seminaries and religious institutions, but also among the laity, and especially among those who are engaged in teaching youth.
    14. In theology, some want to reduce to a minimum the meaning of dogmas; and to free dogma itself from terminology long established in the Church and from philosophical concepts held by Catholic teachers, to bring about a return in the explanation of Catholic doctrine to the way of speaking used in Holy Scripture and by the Fathers of the Church. They cherish the hope that when dogma is stripped of the elements which they hold to be extrinsic to divine revelation, it will compare advantageously with the dogmatic opinions of those who are separated from the unity of the Church and that in this way they will gradually arrive at a mutual assimilation of Catholic dogma with the tenets of the dissidents.
    15. Moreover, they assert that when Catholic doctrine has been reduced to this condition, a way will be found to satisfy modern needs, that will permit of dogma being expressed also by the concepts of modern philosophy, whether of immanentism or idealism or existentialism[4] or any other system. Some more audacious affirm that his can and must be done, because they hold that the mysteries of faith are never expressed by truly adequate concepts but only by approximate and ever changeable notions, in which the truth is to some extent expressed, but is necessarily distorted. Wherefore they do not consider it absurd, but altogether necessary, that theology should substitute new concepts in place of the old ones in keeping with the various philosophies which in the course of time it uses as its instruments, so that it should give human expression to divine truths in various ways which are even somewhat opposed, but still equivalent, as they say. They add that the history of dogmas consists in the reporting of the various forms in which revealed truth has been clothed, forms that have succeeded one another in accordance with the different teachings and opinions that have arisen over the course of the centuries.
    16. It is evident from what We have already said, that such tentatives not only lead to what they call dogmatic relativism, but that they actually contain it. The contempt of doctrine commonly taught and of the terms in which it is expressed strongly favor it. Everyone is aware that the terminology employed in the schools and even that used by the Teaching Authority of the Church itself is capable of being perfected and polished; and we know also that the Church itself has not always used the same terms in the same way. It is also manifest that the Church cannot be bound to every system of philosophy that has existed for a short space of time. Nevertheless, the things that have been composed through common effort by Catholic teachers over the course of the centuries to bring about some understanding of dogma are certainly not based on any such weak foundation. These things are based on principles and notions deduced from a true knowledge of created things. In the process of deducing, this knowledge, like a star, gave enlightenment to the human mind through the Church. Hence it is not astonishing that some of these notions have not only been used by the Oecumenical Councils, but even sanctioned by them, so that it is wrong to depart from them.
    17. Hence to neglect, or to reject,or to devalue so many and such great resources which have been conceived, expressed and perfected so often by the age-old work of men endowed with no common talent and holiness, working under the vigilant supervision of the holy magisterium and with the light and leadership of the Holy Ghost in order to state the truths of the faith ever more accurately, to do this so that these things may be replaced by conjectural notions and by some formless and unstable tenets of a new philosophy, tenets which, like the flowers of the field, are in existence today and die tomorrow; this is supreme imprudence and something that would make dogma itself a reed shaken by the wind. The contempt for terms and notions habitually used by scholastic theologians leads of itself to the weakening of what they call speculative theology, a discipline which these men consider devoid of true certitude because it is based on theological reasoning.
    18. Unfortunately these advocates of novelty easily pass from despising scholastic theology to the neglect of and even contempt for the Teaching Authority of the Church itself, which gives such authoritative approval to scholastic theology. This Teaching Authority is represented by them as a hindrance to progress and an obstacle in the way of science. Some non-Catholics consider it as an unjust restraint preventing some more qualified theologians from reforming their subject. And although this sacred Office of Teacher in matters of faith and morals must be the proximate and universal criterion of truth for all theologians, since to it has been entrusted by Christ Our Lord the whole deposit of faith — Sacred Scripture and Divine Tradition — to be preserved, guarded and interpreted, still the duty that is incumbent on the faithful to flee also those errors which more or less approach heresy, and accordingly “to keep also the constitutions and decrees by which such evil opinions are proscribed and forbidden by the Holy See,”[5] is sometimes as little known as if it did not exist. What is expounded in the Encyclical Letters of the Roman Pontiffs concerning the nature and constitution of the Church, is deliberately and habitually neglected by some with the idea of giving force to a certain vague notion which they profess to have found in the Ancient Fathers, especially the Greeks. The Popes, they assert, do not wish to pass judgment on what is a matter of dispute among theologians, so recourse must be had to the early sources, and the recent constitutions and decrees of the Teaching Church must be explained from the writings of the Ancients.
    19. Although these things seem well said, still they are not free form error. It is true that Popes generally leave theologians free in those matters which are disputed in various ways by men of very high authority in this field; but history teaches that many matters that formerly were open to discussion, no longer now admit of discussion.
    20. Nor must it be thought that what is expounded in Encyclical Letters does not of itself demand consent, since in writing such Letters the Popes do not exercise the supreme power of their Teaching Authority. For these matters are taught with the ordinary teaching authority, of which it is true to say: “He who hears you, hears me”;[6] and generally what is expounded and inculcated in Encyclical Letters already for other reasons appertains to Catholic doctrine. But if the Supreme Pontiffs in their official documents purposely pass judgment on a matter up to that time under dispute, it is obvious that that matter, according to the mind and will of the Pontiffs, cannot be any longer considered a question open to discussion among theologians.
    21. It is also true that theologians must always return to the sources of divine revelation: for it belongs to them to point out how the doctrine of the living Teaching Authority is to be found either explicitly or implicitly in the Scriptures and in Tradition.[7] Besides, each source of divinely revealed doctrine contains so many rich treasures of truth, that they can really never be exhausted. Hence it is that theology through the study of its sacred sources remains ever fresh; on the other hand, speculation which neglects a deeper search into the deposit of faith, proves sterile, as we know from experience. But for this reason even positive theology cannot be on a par with merely historical science. For, together with the sources of positive theology God has given to His Church a living Teaching Authority to elucidate and explain what is contained in the deposit of faith only obscurely and implicitly. This deposit of faith our Divine Redeemer has given for authentic interpretation not to each of the faithful, not even to theologians, but only to the Teaching Authority of the Church. But if the Church does exercise this function of teaching, as she often has through the centuries, either in the ordinary or in the extraordinary way, it is clear how false is a procedure which would attempt to explain what is clear by means of what is obscure. Indeed, the very opposite procedure must be used. Hence Our Predecessor of immortal memory, Pius IX, teaching that the most noble office of theology is to show how a doctrine defined by the Church is contained in the sources of revelation, added these words, and with very good reason: “in that sense in which it has been defined by the Church.”
    22. To return, however, to the new opinions mentioned above, a number of things are proposed or suggested by some even against the divine authorship of Sacred Scripture. For some go so far as to pervert the sense of the Vatican Council’s[8] definition that God is the author of Holy Scripture, and they put forward again the opinion, already often condemned, which asserts that immunity from error extends only to those parts of the Bible that treat of God or of moral and religious matters. They even wrongly speak of a human sense of the Scriptures, beneath which a divine sense, which they say is the only infallible meaning, lies hidden. In interpreting Scripture, they will take no account of the Analogy of Faith[9] and the Tradition of the Church. Thus they judge the doctrine of the Fathers and of the Teaching Church by the norm of Holy Scripture, interpreted by the purely human reason of exegetes, instead of explaining Holy Scripture according to the mind of the Church which Christ Our Lord has appointed guardian and interpreter of the whole deposit of divinely revealed truth.
    23. Further, according to their fictitious opinions, the literal sense of Holy Scripture and its explanation, carefully worked out under the Church’s vigilance by so many great exegetes, should yield now to a new exegesis, which they are pleased to call symbolic or spiritual. By means of this new exegesis of the Old Testament, which today in the Church is a sealed book, would finally be thrown open to all the faithful. By this method, they say, all difficulties vanish, difficulties which hinder only those who adhere to the literal meaning of the Scriptures.
    24. Everyone sees how foreign all this is to the principles and norms of interpretation rightly fixed by our predecessors of happy memory, Leo XIII in his Encyclical “Providentissimus Deus,” and Benedict XV in the Encyclical “Spiritus Paraclitus,” as also by Ourselves in the Encyclical “Divino Afflante Spiritu.”
    25. It is not surprising that novelties of this kind have already borne their deadly fruit in almost all branches of theology. It is now doubted that human reason, without divine revelation and the help of divine grace, can, by arguments drawn from the created universe, prove the existence of a personal God; it is denied that the world had a beginning; it is argued that the creation of the world is necessary, since it proceeds from the necessary liberality of divine love; it is denied that God has eternal and infallible foreknowledge of the free actions of men — all this in contradiction to the decrees of the Vatican Council.[10]
    26. Some also question whether angels are personal beings, and whether matter and spirit differ essentially. Others destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision. Nor is this all. Disregarding the Council of Trent, some pervert the very concept of Original Sin, along with the concept of sin in general as an offense against god, as well as the idea of satisfaction performed for us by Christ. Some even say that the doctrine of Transubstantiation, based on an antiquated philosophic notion of substance, should be so modified that the Real Presence of Christ in the Holy Eucharist be reduced to a kind of symbolism, whereby the consecrated species would be merely efficacious signs of the spiritual presence of Christ and of His intimate union with the faithful members of His Mystical Body.
    27. Some say they are not bound by the doctrine, explained in Our Encyclical Letter of a few years ago, and based on the Sources of Revelation, which teaches that the Mystical Body of Christ and the Roman Catholic Church are one and the same thing.[11] Some reduce to a meaningless formula the necessity of belonging to the True Church in order to gain eternal salvation. Others finally belittle the reasonable character of the credibility of Christian faith.
    28. These and like errors, it is clear, have crept in among certain of Our sons who are deceived by imprudent zeal for souls or by false science. To them We are compelled with grief to repeat once again truths already well known, and to point out with solicitude clear errors and dangers of error.
    29. It is well known how highly the Church regards human reason, for it falls to reason to demonstrate with certainty the existence of God, personal and one; to prove beyond doubt from divine signs the very foundations of the Christian faith; to express properly the law which the Creator has imprinted in the hearts of men; and finally to attain to some notion, indeed a very fruitful notion, of mysteries.[12] But reason can perform these functions safely and well only when properly trained, that is, when imbued with that sound philosophy which has long been, as it were, a patrimony handed down by earlier Christian ages, and which moreover possesses an authority of an even higher order, since the Teaching Authority of the Church, in the light of divine revelation itself, has weighed its fundamental tenets, which have been elaborated and defined little by little by men of great genius. For this philosophy, acknowledged and accepted by the Church, safeguards the genuine validity of human knowledge, the unshakable metaphysical principles of sufficient reason, causality, and finality, and finally the mind’s ability to attain certain and unchangeable truth.
    30. Of course this philosophy deals with much that neither directly nor indirectly touches faith or morals, and which consequently the Church leaves to the free discussion of experts. But this does not hold for many other things, especially those principles and fundamental tenets to which We have just referred. However, even in these fundamental questions, we may clothe our philosophy in a more convenient and richer dress, make it more vigorous with a more effective terminology, divest it of certain scholastic aids found less useful, prudently enrich it with the fruits of progress of the human mind. But never may we overthrow it, or contaminate it with false principles, or regard it as a great, but obsolete, relic. For truth and its philosophic expression cannot change from day to day, least of all where there is question of self-evident principles of the human mind or of those propositions which are supported by the wisdom of the ages and by Divine Revelation. Whatever new truth the sincere human mind is able to find, certainly cannot be opposed to truth already acquired, since God, the Highest Truth, has created and guides the human intellect, not that it may daily oppose new truths to rightly established ones, but rather that, having eliminated errors which may have crept in, it may build truth upon truth in the same order and structure that exist in reality, the source of truth. Let no Christian, therefore, whether philosopher or theologian, embrace eagerly and lightly whatever novelty happens to be thought up from day to day, but rather let him weigh it with painstaking care and a balanced judgment, lest he lose or corrupt the truth he already has, with grave danger and damage to his faith.
    31. If one considers all this well, he will easily see why the Church demands that future priests be instructed in philosophy “according to the method, doctrine, and principles of the Angelic Doctor,”[13] since, as we well know from the experience of centuries, the method of Aquinas is singularly preeminent both of teaching students and for bringing truth to light; his doctrine is in harmony with Divine Revelation, and is most effective both for safeguarding the foundation of the faith and for reaping, safely and usefully, the fruits of sound progress.[14]
    32. How deplorable it is then that this philosophy, received and honored by the Church, is scorned by some, who shamelessly call it “outmoded” in form and rationalistic, as they say, in its method of thought. They say that this philosophy upholds the erroneous notion that there can be a metaphysic that is absolutely true; whereas in fact, they say, reality, especially transcendent reality, cannot better be expressed than by disparate teachings, which mutually complete each other, although they are in a way mutually opposed. Our traditional philosophy, then, with its clear exposition and solution of questions, its accurate definition of terms, its clear-cut distinctions, can be, they concede, useful as a preparation for scholastic theology, a preparation quite in accord with medieval mentality; but this philosophy hardly offers a method of philosophizing suited to the needs of our modern culture. They allege, finally, that our perennial philosophy is only a philosophy of immutable essences, while the contemporary mind must look to the existence of things and to life, which is ever in flux. While scorning our philosophy, they extol other philosophies of all kinds, ancient and modern, oriental and occidental, by which they seem to imply that any kind of philosophy or theory, with a few additions and corrections if need be, can be reconciled with Catholic dogma. No Catholic can doubt how false this is, especially where there is question of those fictitious theories they call immanentism, or idealism or materialism, whether historic or dialectic, or even existentialism, whether atheistic or simply the type that denies the validity of the reason in the field of metaphysics.
    33. Finally, they reproach this philosophy taught in our schools for regarding only the intellect in the process of cognition, while neglecting the function of the will and the emotions. This is simply not true. Never has Christian philosophy denied the usefulness and efficacy of good dispositions of soul for perceiving and embracing moral and religious truths. In fact, it has always taught that the lack of these dispositions of good will can be the reason why the intellect, influenced by the passions and evil inclinations, can be so obscured that it cannot see clearly. Indeed, St. Thomas holds that the intellect can in some way perceive higher goods of the moral order, whether natural or supernatural, inasmuch as it experiences a certain “connaturality” with these goods, whether this “connaturality” be purely natural, or the result of grace;[15] and it is clear how much even this somewhat obscure perception can help the reason in its investigations. However it is one thing to admit the power of the dispositions of the will in helping reason to gain a more certain and firm knowledge of moral truths; it is quite another thing to say, as these innovators do, indiscriminately mingling cognition and act of will, that the appetitive and affective faculties have a certain power of understanding, and that man, since he cannot by using his reason decide with certainty what is true and is to be accepted, turns to his will, by which he freely chooses among opposite opinions.
    34. It is not surprising that these new opinions endanger the two philosophical sciences which by their very nature are closely connected with the doctrine of faith, that is, theodicy and ethics; they hold that the function of these two sciences is not to prove with certitude anything about God or any other transcendental being, but rather to show that the truths which faith teaches about a personal God and about His precepts, are perfectly consistent with the necessities of life and are therefore to be accepted by all, in order to avoid despair and to attain eternal salvation. All these opinions and affirmations are openly contrary to the documents of Our Predecessors Leo XIII and Pius X, and cannot be reconciled with the decrees of the Vatican Council.[16] It would indeed be unnecessary to deplore these aberrations from the truth, if all, even in the field of philosophy, directed their attention with the proper reverence to the Teaching Authority of the Church, which by divine institution has the mission not only to guard and interpret the deposit of divinely revealed truth, but also to keep watch over the philosophical sciences themselves, in order that Catholic dogmas may suffer no harm because of erroneous opinions.
    35. It remains for Us now to speak about those questions which, although they pertain to the positive sciences, are nevertheless more or less connected with the truths of the Christian faith. in fact, not a few insistently demand that the Catholic religion take these sciences into account as much as possible. This certainly would be praiseworthy in the case of clearly proved facts; but caution must be used when there is rather question of hypotheses, having some sort of scientific foundation, in which the doctrine contained in Sacred Scripture or in Tradition is involved. If such conjectural opinions are directly or indirectly opposed to the doctrine revealed by God, then the demand that they be recognized can in no way be admitted.
    36. For these reasons the Teaching Authority of the Church does not forbid that, in conformity with the present state of human sciences and sacred theology, research and discussions, on the part of men experienced in both fields, take place with regard to the doctrine of evolution, in as far as it inquires into the origin of the human body as coming from pre-existent and living matter — for the Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God. However, this must be done in such a way that the reasons for both opinions, that is, those favorable and those unfavorable to evolution, be weighed and judged with the necessary seriousness, moderation and measure, and provided that all are prepared to submit to the judgment of the Church, to whom Christ has given the mission of interpreting authentically the Sacred Scriptures and of defending the dogmas of faith.[17] Some however, rashly transgress this liberty of discussion, when they act as if the origin of the human body from pre-existing and living matter were already completely certain and proved by the facts which have been discovered up to now and by reasoning on those facts, and as if there were nothing in the sources of divine revelation which demands the greatest moderation and caution in this question.
    37. When, however, there is question of another conjectural opinion, namely polygenism, the children of the Church by no means enjoy such liberty. For the faithful cannot embrace that opinion which maintains that either after Adam there existed on this earth true men who did not take their origin through natural generation from him as from the first parent of all, or that Adam represents a certain number of first parents. Now it is no no way apparent how such an opinion can be reconciled with that which the sources of revealed truth and the documents of the Teaching Authority of the Church propose with regard to original sin, which proceeds from a sin actually committed by an individual Adam and which, through generation, is passed on to all and is in everyone as his own.[18]
    38. Just as in the biological and anthropological sciences, so also in the historical sciences there are those who boldly transgress the limits and safeguards established by the Church. In a particular way must be deplored a certain too free interpretation of the historical books of the Old Testament. Those who favor this system, in order to defend their cause, wrongly refer to the Letter which was sent not long ago to the Archbishop of Paris by the Pontifical Commission on Biblical Studies.[19] This letter, in fact, clearly points out that the first eleven chapters of Genesis, although properly speaking not conforming to the historical method used by the best Greek and Latin writers or by competent authors of our time, do nevertheless pertain to history in a true sense, which however must be further studied and determined by exegetes; the same chapters, (the Letter points out), in simple and metaphorical language adapted to the mentality of a people but little cultured, both state the principal truths which are fundamental for our salvation, and also give a popular description of the origin of the human race and the chosen people. If, however, the ancient sacred writers have taken anything from popular narrations (and this may be conceded), it must never be forgotten that they did so with the help of divine inspiration, through which they were rendered immune from any error in selecting and evaluating those documents.
    39. Therefore, whatever of the popular narrations have been inserted into the Sacred Scriptures must in no way be considered on a par with myths or other such things, which are more the product of an extravagant imagination than of that striving for truth and simplicity which in the Sacred Books, also of the Old Testament, is so apparent that our ancient sacred writers must be admitted to be clearly superior to the ancient profane writers.
    40. Truly, we are aware that the majority of Catholic doctors, the fruit of whose studies is being gathered in universities, in seminaries and in the colleges of religious, are far removed from those errors which today, whether through a desire for novelty or through a certain immoderate zeal for the apostolate, are being spread either openly or covertly. But we know also that such new opinions can entice the incautious; and therefore we prefer to withstand the very beginnings rather than to administer the medicine after the disease has grown inveterate.
    41. For this reason, after mature reflexion and consideration before God, that We may not be wanting in Our sacred duty, We charge the Bishops and the Superiors General of Religious Orders, binding them most seriously in conscience, to take most diligent care that such opinions be not advanced in schools, in conferences or in writings of any kind, and that they be not taught in any manner whatsoever to the clergy or the faithful.
    42. Let the teachers in ecclesiastical institutions be aware that they cannot with tranquil conscience exercise the office of teaching entrusted to them, unless in the instruction of their students they religiously accept and exactly observe the norms which We have ordained. That due reverend and submission which in their unceasing labor they must profess toward the Teaching Authority of the Church, let them instill also into the minds and hearts of their students.
    43. Let them strive with every force and effort to further the progress of the sciences which they teach; but let them also be careful not to transgress the limits which We have established for the protection of the truth of Catholic faith and doctrine. With regard to new questions, which modern culture and progress have brought to the foreground, let them engage in most careful research, but with the necessary prudence and caution; finally, let them not think, indulging in a false “eirenicism,” that the dissident and the erring can happily be brought back to the bosom of the Church, if the whole truth found in the Church is not sincerely taught to all without corruption or diminution.
    44. Relying on this hope, which will be increased by your pastoral care, as a pledge of celestial gifts and a sign of Our paternal benevolence, We impart with all Our heart to each and all of you, Venerable Brethren, and to your clergy and people the Apostolic Benediction.
    45. Given at Rome, at St. Peter’s, 12 August 1950, the twelfth year of Our Pontificate.

    1. I Vatican Council, D.B., 1876, Constitution “De Fide Catholica”, chapter 2, “De Revelatione.”
    2. “Actual grace” is used here in its catechism meaning, i.e., the special graces that come to us from God to enable us to perform specific “acts,” hence “actual.”
    3. “Scandal,” in moral theology, is not simply the setting of tongues to wagging and self-righteous “Oh My-ing.” Scandal is an act or the omission of an act which, because of its presence, leads another to commit a sin which, failing its presence he/she would not have done.
    4. All names of various philosophical movements of this and the last century.
    5. Codex Juris Canonici, canon 1324; cfr. I Vatican Council, D.B., 1820, Constitution “De Fide Catholica”, chapter 4, “De Fide et Ratione,” post canones
    6. Luke 10:16
    7. Pius IX, “Inter Gravissimas,” 28 October 1870, “Acta,” Volume I, p. 260
    8. The *First* Vatican Council, ended 1871
    9. “The Analogy of Faith” is a technical term in theological circles
    10. Cf. I Vatican Council, Constitution “De Fide Catholica,” Chapter 1, “De Deo Rerum Omnium Creatore”
    11. Cf. Encyclical Letter, “Mystici Corporis,” A.A.S., Volume XXXV, p. 193 ff.
    12. Cf. I Vatican Council, D.B., 1796
    13. Codes Juris Canonici, canon 1366,2
    14. A.A.S., Volume XXXVIII, 1946, p. 387
    15. Cf. St. Thomas, “Summa Theologica,” II-II:1:4 and II-II:45:2.
    16. The FIRST Vatican Council
    17. Cf. Pontifical Allocution to the members of the Academy of Science, 30 November 1941: A.A.S., volume XXXIII, p. 506
    18. Cf. Romans, 5:12-19; Council of Trent, Session V, canon 1-4
    19. 16 January 1948, A.A.S., Volume XL, pp. 45-48


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