AUSTRALIA’S Cardinal George Pell has described the biblical story of Adam and Eve as a sophisticated myth used to explain evil and suffering rather than a scientific truth.
Cardinal Pell last night appeared on the ABC’s Q&A program, where he was debating British evolutionary biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins.
Cardinal Pell said humans “probably” evolved from Neanderthals but it was impossible to say exactly when there was a first human. “But we have to say if there are humans, there must have been a first one,” he said.
According to Genesis, God created Adam and Eve as the first man and woman.
Asked by journalist Tony Jones if he believed in the existence of an actual Garden of Eden with an Adam and Eve, Cardinal Pell said it was not a matter of science but rather a beautiful mythological account.
“It’s a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and the suffering in the world,” he said.
“It’s certainly not a scientific truth. And it’s a religious story told for religious purposes.”
Cardinal Pell argued that the “great atheist movements” of Hitler and Stalin were the personification of social Darwinism.
“It’s the struggle for survival, the strong take what they can, and the weak give what they must and there’s nothing to restrain them.” he said. “And we’ve seen that in the two great atheist movements of the last century.”
Professor Dawkins, author of The God Delusion, rejected the notion as “ridiculous”.
He said Stalin was an atheist and Hitler was not, and they each perpetrated their acts for different reasons.
Towards the end of the debate, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia appeared to lament his struggle to promote Christ.
“My life would be much easier if I didn’t have to go into bat for . . . Christian principles,” he said.
Cardinal Pell then mused that he sometimes wondered if he should regret his life’s work, before asserting: “No, no.”