Since the publication of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species in 1859, there has been a lot of debate, often heated, surrounding the impact of his theory of evolution on the Catholic Church’s account of the origins of creation. That debate and conversation continues to this day.

To help clarify and advance this discussion, TE.org is hosting an online disputatio that brings together Catholic interlocuters who represent three different views on the origins of life on our planet. A disputatio is a style of structured formal debate that was used extensively in the medieval scholastic schools. It involved listening to one’s interlocutors, identifying their objections, and responding to them.

Mr. Hugh Owen from the Kolbe Center for the Study of Creation will present an account of special creation based on the traditional biblical chronology; Fr. Michael Chaberek, OP, will discuss an account of progressive creation; and Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP, will propose a narrative of evolutionary creation.

We agreed that the disputatio would begin with a presentation of each position articulated as answers to six questions. We believe that these essays will display the explanatory power of each position. After we have answered each question, we would then be invited to respond to each other with one final response from each position.

We hope that this exchange will help our readers to better understand each of our respective positions so that we can together discern the truth with the help of God.

The six questions each of us will answer over the next few months are as follows:

How do you think God created all the kinds of living organisms today? When did He create them?

[Link to Special Creation Essay by Hugh Owen]

[Link to Progressive Creation Essay by Fr. Michael Chaberek, OP]

[Link to Evolutionary Creation Essay by Fr. Nicanor Austriaco, OP]

How would you explain the fossil record that reveals that there have been living organisms created by God that existed for a time in the past but do not exist today?

How do you interpret the seven-day creation narrative in Genesis?

How do you interpret the Adam and Eve narrative in Genesis?

How would you understand the Catholic tradition’s reading of Genesis, especially in the writings of the Fathers and Doctors of the Church?

Using the Aristotelian-Thomistic framework that is the foundation for the Catholic intellectual tradition, philosophically, how would you explain how two different substances of chemical kind, say, hydrogen and oxygen, can react to generate an individual substance of a new chemical kind, in this case, water?