From the Dust of the Earth
Benedict XVI, the Bible, and the Theory of Evolution
Imprint: Catholic University of America Press
The claim that evolution undermines Christianity is standard fare in our culture. Indeed, many today have the impression that the two are mutually exclusive and that a choice must be made between faith and reason—rejecting Christianity on the one hand or evolutionary theory on the other. Is there a way to square advances in this field of study with the Bible and Church teaching?
In this book—his fourth dedicated to applying Joseph Ratzinger/Benedict XVI’s wisdom to pressing theological difficulties—Matthew Ramage answers this question decidedly in the affirmative. Distinguishing between evolutionary theory properly speaking and the materialist attitude that is often conflated with it, Ramage’s work meets the challenge of evolutionary science to Catholic teaching on human origins, guided by Ratzinger’s conviction that faith and evolutionary theory mutually enrich one another.
Pope Benedict gifted the Church with many pivotal yet often-overlooked resources for engaging evolution in the light of faith, especially in those instances where he addressed the topic in connection with the Book of Genesis. Ramage highlights these contributions and also makes his own by applying Ratzinger’s principles to such issues as the meaning of man’s special creation, the relationship between sin and death, and the implications of evolution for eschatology. Notably, Ramage shows that many apparent conflicts between Christianity and evolutionary theory lose their force when we interpret creation in light of the Paschal Mystery and fix our gaze on Jesus, the New Adam who reveals man to himself.
Readers of this text will find that it does more than merely help to resolve apparent contradictions between faith and modern science. Ramage’s work shows that discoveries in evolutionary biology are not merely difficulties to be overcome but indeed gifts that yield precious insight into the mystery of God’s saving plan in Christ.
"Ramage’s book is the first to fully gather and systematize Ratzinger’s thought on the relationship between faith and science. As such it is a very significant contribution, one whose value is greatly enhanced by the drawing in of lecture notes that further clarify Ratzinger’s less systematic approach to the book’s questions in his published works."~Christopher T. Baglow, University of Notre Dame
"In From the Dust of the Earth, Matthew Ramage does the Catholic Church a great service. Not only does he make Professor Joseph Ratzinger’s university lectures on evolution and creation accessible to an English-speaking audience, but he also successfully engages in the hard work of further expounding and developing this great theologian’s approach to the Catholic faith and evolution. This book is theology at the cutting edge of the modern natural sciences and should be widely read by all who seek to understand the faith."~Jordan Haddad, Notre Dame Seminary
"Ramage's great contribution is to have distilled from an impressive variety of sources Ratzinger’s holistic method for interpreting Scripture, amplifying Ratzinger's insights with the best of what's been thought and said about Genesis and evolution. The author has left few stones unturned in this regard. Because both Ratzinger's theological legacy and the myth of faith-science conflict prove equally resilient, the contribution is timely and significant."~Aaron Pidel, SJ, Marquette University
"Ramage brightly shows, in the light of Ratzinger’s thought, that a nuanced reading of Scripture is perfectly compatible with evolution, including the difficult question of original sin. Some points, and even his interpretation of Ratzinger’s thought, will be, perhaps, the object of debate and disagreement. But what cannot be at stake is Ramage’s honesty in his attempt to present faithfully the teaching of the Church in the context of evolution, and in his passionate way to unite his theological thought and his Christian experience of life."~Santiago Sanz Sánchez, Pontifical University of the Holy Cross
"Dr. Ramage's distillation of Ratzinger's work is a prime example of Catholicism's relation to cultural and academic fields. His readable yet substantial prose offers biblical and anthropological clarifications on a long-debated subject. A timely and necessary work!"~Jared Zimmerer, Senior Director, Word on Fire Institute
"This work is a well-planned excursus through the deep thought sustained over decades by the emeritus pontiff and his wrestling with the most fundamental questions of man’s origins in light of the Catholic faith and of the last two centuries of the scientific revolution… Those with both a scientific and/or theological background will find the volume illuminating. However, anyone who is interested in tackling this subject will ultimately benefit from reading this volume. It is a highly accessible work for anyone willing to take the time to read it and it is highly recommended."~The Catholic Post