Philosophy of Evolution: Not Atheistic

The State of the Question


The Neo-Scholastics are theists in philosophy and theology.

The Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome has a contemporary academic course on evolution that does not deal directly with creation or the proof of the existence of a creator. This, in itself is not surprising in general, since Scholastic philosophers often treat the existence of God in the section of philosophy called natural theology. Nor is the minimal treatment of God surprising in the book of La Vecchia, since she emphasizes the goal of the process of hominisation in which God creates the spiritual soul finally making the human being as such. La Vecchia is innovative in that she attempts to make an original case for the evolution of the body of man, but she does not directly treat the creation of species other than man. Nevertheless, an attentive reading of the book of La Vecchia can offer us a number of insights concerning the role of God in the evolutionary process.

First, the evolutionary process has to have some efficient cause.1 Evolution is transformation to a goal, which in this case is man at the apex of the development of his powers.

Second, the evolutionary process has to have a sufficient cause.2 The argument for sufficiency is the superiority of man over the rest of the animals due to man’s spiritual soul, which can only be given to man by a proportionate cause. Such a spiritual sufficient cause is God.

Third, La Vecchia denies that organic evolution of the sensitive faculties alone would be able to bring about the spiritual soul of man with all the typically rational faculties, such as abstraction properly speaking, free will, reflex consciousness, and symbolic language. Such a transformation would demand the free special intervention of God in "particular creation."3

Fourth, La Vecchia regards final causality as so important that she includes it in the title of her book, Evoluzione e FinalitB. Theistic views of evolution recognize the finality of nature.4

Vittorio Marcozzi, more concretely, gives the phases of evolution in which the intervention of God is necessary. He says that there are at least three events demanding divine intervention. First, the appearance of life and living organisms demand some divine intervention. Second, the evolutionary possibilities with which God imbues these organisms demand special divine intervention. Finally, the advent of man, who has spiritual qualities, demands the special intervention of the Creator.5

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