If, hypothetically, the topic of this project were to be presented in the time it takes to ride an elevator, it would be the changes and continuities in the relationship between the theory of evolution and the Catholic Church over time. However, after further discussion, this topic seems a little broad, almost too broad to do a comprehensive project on. Thus, I am striving to narrow my focus down and complete this project with the spotlight on a specific moment or key event in history.
More specifically, my project will involve fundamental aspects of the theory of evolution, such as the Scopes Monkey Trial. I am striving to evaluate how these teachings have historically been placed into the curriculums at Catholic educational institutions. Given the extensive lessons on evolution that I had while attending public school, I am quite curious to see how the topic is taught in institutions that prefer to focus on a different theory of life. To do so, I will dig through libraries, databases, and archives to hopefully discover examples of school curriculums, perspectives from leaders in the Catholic Church on evolution, and even testimonials from teachers or students surrounding the teaching of evolution. More so, I plan on visiting the leaders of my Catholic Church and questioning them about their views on evolution, as well as asking the teachers, students, and other churchgoers how they were taught about evolution in order to formulate a contemporary discussion on the place of evolution in the Catholic Church.
I intend on using the information collected from contemporary Catholics as a frame for the project. By beginning the argument discussing the current climate of the relationship between Catholics and evolution, I plan on swinging the argument through time, discussing the evolution of this relationship over time. Concurrently, I plan to focus the majority of the project on the time shortly before and shortly after the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925, and the effects the trial had on Catholic educational institutions in Chicago.
More importantly, however, I will draw upon all of the lectures and discussions from seminar about the history of Catholicism in America. Using the foundation that I have about American Catholics and their influence over the story of Catholicism, I will compound that with localized research to develop a compelling argument and discussion surrounding the Catholic Church’s relationship with the theory of evolution since its conception.
The biggest questions I strive to ask of this topic are:
- Do Catholics believe in evolution?
- How was evolution historically taught in Catholic schools?
- How is evolution taught today?
- What are the key curriculum differences compared to public schools?
- As we advance further into the future, how will the discussion between science and religion evolve?
This topic is really a chance to look at a very specific moment in time at a specific locations and analyze its both modern and contemporary effects. Using sources from databases and archives and testimonies from contemporary Catholics, this topic will hopefully be able to shine some light on the hotly contested relationship between the Catholic Church and the field of science, with the theory of evolution being the key contender.