The theory of "evolutionism," as Pope John Paul II emphasized in his 1996 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, is made up of multiple "theories of evolution," some of which contradict Catholic teaching.
The first fork in evolutionism is theistic vs. atheistic evolution. Atheistic evolution denies God created anything and is, therefore, rejected by Catholics. Theistic evolution, however, admits God created matter ex nihilo, out of nothing. It asserts this material then developed naturally into stars and planets. Pope Pius XII personally believed in a theistic form of the so-called Big Bang Theory that's not contrary to Genesis 1:3, which reads, "God said: 'Be light made.' And light was made."
Theistic evolution forks into cosmological and biological evolution. Cosmological evolution holds that only inorganic matter can naturally develop or evolve. Biological evolution, however, claims that even organic or living matter developed from inorganic material. It further asserts that simple life forms or species evolved through so-called macro-evolution, changing into different living species. Macro-evolution is distinct from micro-evolution, which merely explains how various breeds occur within the same species.
Biological evolution splits into materialist and spiritualist theories. Unlike the latter, materialistic evolution denies that God individually creates each human soul. In paragraph 36 of his 1950 encyclical Humani Generis, Pope Pius XII condemned this misconception: "[T]he Catholic faith obliges us to hold that souls are immediately created by God." In paragraph 37 of the same encyclical Pius XII also condemned the heresy of "polygenism," which claims man had many sets of original progenitors apart from Adam and Eve.
Macro-evolution divides into gradual evolution and so-called punctuated equilibrium. Gradual evolution professes that one species evolved into a different species gradually over many generations. Owing to the lack of any transitional fossils or any zoological examples undergoing such change, punctuated equilibrium proposes that one species evolved into another species in a single iteration. A dog giving birth to a cat is far-fetched but not heretical.
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