From the Dust of the Earth: Benedict XVI, the Bible, and the Theory of Evolution

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