Although I agree with the position that belief in creation and evolutionary theory do not exclude each other, and I also agree that the contingency of evolution by natural selection parallels certain aspects of creation belief, I must admit I am a bit reluctant to identify divine action with the process of natural selection as Ratzinger does in this quote.
I think the quote is still far too anthropocentric to be able to bridge the gap between blind chance (Monod) and divine love (Christianity). Mikael Stenmark‘s analysis might be helpful here. He proposes that there is a difference between God willing humans to emerge and God willing sentient life to emerge. He compares this with parents expecting a child. There is a difference between longing for your child to be born, loving it even when it’s still in the womb, regardless of the child being a boy or a girl, and longing for your child to be born, after having decided it should be a boy, named Rick, with an IQ of 135, a taste for music, a talent for soccer, and so on. Stenmark argues that Christians could think about God’s love along the same lines: God was expecting a sentient life form, loving it even before it was born. He did not a priori impose norms that would limit His love to creatures that could meet these norms.
I think Stenmark has a point. God loved the Neanderthal as much as Homo sapiens, just as He loves every living creature. To think of God’s love as somehow limited goes against the grain of creation belief, I think. But following this line of reasoning raises, in its turn, new questions on what it means to be Imago Dei.
Ratzinger on the humble truth of the creation of man from dust:
We are told that God formed the man of dust from the ground. There is here something at once humbling and consoling. Something humbling because we are told: You are not God, you did not make yourself, you do not rule the universe; you are limited. You are a being destined for death, as are all things living; you are only earth. But something consoling too,, because we are also told: The human being is not a demon or an evil spirit, as it might occasionally appear. The human being has not been formed from negative forces, but has been fashioned form God’s good earth. Behind this glimmers something deeper yet, for we are told that all human beings are earth. Despite every distinction that culture and history have brought about, it is still true that we are, in the last resort…
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