Philosophy of Evolution: For Human Body

The State of the Question


Possibly, the Human Body Has Evolved

The Pontifical Gregorian University’s faculty of philosophy maintains the possibility of evolution by an anticipation and predisposition in the prehominids and the hominids for the body of man.1 However, contemporary proof of the origin of the body of man from fossil remains is incomplete and fragmentary.2

The thesis that the human body has evolved is the application of the general theory of evolution to the specific case of man.3 Since it has already been shown that there is an essential difference between man and the other animals, the consideration here is limited to the material body of man. The issue is important, since Neo-Scholastic philosophers such as Karl Rahner have pointed out that man is a spirit "in the world," so that the body in the world has its own special importance.4

Neo-Scholastics earlier in the twentieth century proposed their treatment of this question with a wide scope. For example, in 1959, Palmes argued, "The hypothesis of the mere animal origin of the human species is naturally impossible, however it is understood."5 Since then, more distinctions have been considered.6 Further, the scientific base for the philosophy of nature continues to develop at a rapid pace, and the judgment of philosophy depends on the facts of science.7

General theories of the origin of all species can be reduced to four.8 Creationism, or rather Productionism (God produces from pre-existing matter), so that every species is produced by God, the more perfect after the imperfect, from inorganic matter. Passive Evolution under the influence of God, by which God uses lower species to generate higher species, which is the opinion of such as D’Hulst, De Sinety, Bouyssonie, Wassman, Gemelli, Marcozzi, and many other Catholics.9 Active Evolution holds that God in the beginning produced all species at once, but not in their actual form, but virtually and as if in a seed, so that as just a the pregnant mother is to the fetus, so the world itself is the pregnant cause of the birth of species. Passive Evolution without the influence of God, which accounts for evolution only by natural causes and by chance happening, which is the opinion of such philosophers as Mivart, Le Roy, Teilhard de Chardin, and others.10

Author:  John Edward Mulvihill, S.T.D., D.Min., Ph.D.
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