history of science · Pius XX

On This Day . . .

Sixty years ago today Pope Pius XII issued the first and to date only papal encyclical treating a scientific theory. Humani Generis adopted the Catholic Church’s position that the evolutionary origin of the human body was a legitimate area of scientific study, provided one reserved a special status for the human soul, as directly created by God.

There is a lot more to the encyclical, which I hope to address in more depth shortly. But for now I’d like to tip my cap to a pope who has become just about everyone’s favorite punching bag for other reasons, and commend his interest and enthusiasm for science. We’ve learned a lot in sixty years….