My belief on Evolution as influenced by Catholicism

kristin - Lake Charles, Louisiana
Entered on April 7, 2009

Social workers will interact and treat clients from a variety of different spiritual and religious backgrounds. Seeing as how religious/spiritual factors can greatly affect a person’s reasoning, decision making, and their actions, it is important for practitioners to be aware of this. Social workers need to be aware of their own religious beliefs and developments and the role they play in their own life in order to best understand how to relate to a clients’ spirituality (Ashford, Lecroy, Lortie, 2006). My own spiritual development began when I was an infant. I was raised in a Catholic family, so I received the customary sacrament of baptism at the age of four months. This was a critical start for my family as well as me because all of my family members had done the same when they were infants. It was a right of passing not only for my family, but for my religious community as well in that now I was officially a member of God’s family. This Catholic beginning would pave the way for my religious development and be the basis for all my early decision making and reasoning. I went on to complete all of the other age appropriate sacraments such as first communion, confirmation, attending Catholic school (3-12 grade). However all things have a way of being tested.

Darwin’s theory of evolution has its own relevance to my personal beliefs because attending a Catholic elementary school during the time I did, the discussion of this theory was prohibited. Our teachers stressed to us that the world was created by God and that he created any and all beings exactly how they are and in his image. Since I was part of a Catholic family, therefore internalizing all the churches’ beliefs and teachings, I readily accepted this way of thinking. I never had any questions or doubts in my mind because I believe in God and I trusted my teachers.

It was not until I attended high school that I was introduced to the ideas and theories surrounding evolution. The high school that I attended was a Catholic high school as well, however by that time it had been decided on that all schools, even Catholic schools, had to teach the theory of evolution. The initial explanation of evolution was done by my religion teacher. We were discussing the creation of the universe in religion class. We started with the familiar story of the bible stating how the world was created in seven days by God, the popular Catholic belief. Then our teacher told us about evolution as an alternate story of creation that non-Catholic people choose to believe. I was speechless. I have a scientific mind so I was fascinated by the notion that there was an explanation of the creation of the world that was science-based and actually tangible and observable! At the same time I felt extremely conflicted because I had strong faith in my religion and did not want to feel as though I was turning my back on God.

I decided that all the questions I had about evolution versus the creation story could be easily resolved if I simply discussed them with my religion teacher and other members of my church community. To my disappointment, none of the answers I received were satisfying. I felt like nobody could provide the information that I needed to decide which one I would fully believe in. It was around this time that I started to not necessarily question my faith, but just question things about religion in general. I started to feel that maybe everything from the bible should not be taken literally. This affected me tremendously from a moral standpoint because I could now justify having my own interpretation of the bible’s lessons. To this day, I am still not sure if this is a good thing or a bad thing. I am certain though that religious uncertainty and a weakened attachment to the Catholic Church started for me when I was introduced to evolution.