Pope Francis recently waded into the heated debate over the origins of human life, saying the Big Bang Theory does not contradict the role of a divine creator. On October 27, the Pope was at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, where the plenary assembly had gathered to discuss “Evolving Concepts of Nature.”
“When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so. … He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment,” Francis said.
He further explained that the beginning of the world stemmed from a principle of love and not from chaos, while asserting competing ideas in creation and evolution can sometimes co-exist.
“God is not a demigod or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” the Pope said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
As opposed to evangelical Protestantism in the United States, Catholic teaching has not always been at odds with evolution. As long ago as in 1950, Pope Pius XIII said there was no contradiction between evolution and Catholic doctrine and in 1996, St John Paul II reiterated the same notion. Some believers wondered if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wished to change that notion when along with some acolytes, he seemed to promote the theory of intelligent design – the idea that the world is too complex to have evolved as Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection suggests.
In fact, in 2005, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna too, wrote a very popular op-ed for The New York Times, saying, “Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense — an unguided, unplanned process … is not.”
After Pope Francis’ recent comments, Giovanni Bignami, who is a professor at Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, thanked the Pope for putting to rest creationists’ “pseudo theories.”
“The pope’s statement is significant,” Bignami told Italian news agency Adnkronos. “We are the direct descendents from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation.”
Francis made his recent remarks at the unveiling of a bust in honour of his predecessor Benedict at the Vatican.
“Benedict XVI was a great pope: great for the power and penetration of his intellect, great for his significant contribution to theology, great for his love of the church and of human beings, great for his virtue and piety,” he said.
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