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Index to Creationist Claims,  edited by Mark Isaak,    Copyright © 2004
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Claim CA660:

Pope John Paul II's statement that evolution is "more than a hypothesis" is a mistranslation; it should be "more than one hypothesis," implying a lack of unanimity among scientists.


  1. The Pope's message was indeed mistranslated, but in a way opposite to the claim. The phrase which, in the original French, means "more than a hypothesis" was mistranslated into English as "more than one hypothesis." Looking at the document as a whole, it is clear that the Pope accepts evolution as a scientifically accepted fact. The sentences following the one in question refer to a convergence of acceptance by researchers. The message expands on Humani Generis, which "had already stated that there was no opposition between evolution and the doctrine of the faith about man and his vocation," provided certain spiritual points were not disregarded. The science is not in dispute.

  2. The question of unanimity among scientists should be addressed to scientists, who show substantial unanimity in agreement with the theory of evolution (NCSE, n.d.).

  3. The truth of the theory of evolution is not decided by an argument from authority.


Akin, James. 1996. Evolution: What the Pope said,

Thomas, Cal. 1997 (Jan. 25). We're all fallible: The pope, evolution, and the importance of good translation World on the Web 11(33)


  1. NCSE. n.d., Voices for evolution: Statements from scientific and scholarly organizations,

Further Reading:

Pope John Paul II. 1996. Magisterium is concerned with question of evolution for it involves conception of man: Message to Pontifical Academy of Sciences, October 22, 1996.

Gould, Stephen J. 1998. Non-overlapping magisteria. In: Leonardo's Mountain of Clams and the Diet of Worms. New York: Three Rivers Press, pp. 269-283. See esp. footnote on pg. 279.
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created 2003-3-25, modified 2003-9-8