Pope Francis and Evolution

Graphic by Jack Wang

Written by Andrea Martin, Media by Jack Wang


Pope Francis
Pope Francis Talking in Public. Source: www.mondayvatican.com

Last week Pope Francis made comments on the topic of evolution and creationism, declaring that the Big Bang theory did not contradict the role of a divine creator, but instead actually required it. An assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences had gathered at the Vatican 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,” Francis said. “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.”

In continuing his view, Francis declared that the beginning of the world was not “a work of chaos,” but was created from a principle of love. Such competing beliefs can co-exist, and Francis didn’t shy away from announcing his view on such a sensitive topic. “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.” The Catholic Church has long had a reputation for being anti-science – most famously when Galileo faced inquisition and was forced to retract his statements regarding the how the Earth revolved around the Sun, a statement that was declared as “heretic.”

However, Francis’ comments had some validity in terms of keeping a progressive view for the Catholic Church, in which some views were set when Pope Pius XII had looked over Vatican City. In 1950, Pope Pius XII had declared that there was no opposition between evolution and Catholic doctrine. In 1996, St. John Paul II endorsed Pius’ statement. Paul even went as far to say that evolution was “more than a hypothesis” and “effectively proven fact.”

Long lasting debate between Creationism and Evolution. Source: www.relativelyinteresting.com
Long lasting debate between Creationism and Evolution. Source: www.relativelyinteresting.com

More recently, Benedict XVI and his close advisors had apparently endorsed the idea of an intelligent design underpins evolution. In other words, with the world being too complex, Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection and evolution couldn’t be the simplistic solution and answer for how the world is today, and how it was in the past. Giovanni Bignami, a professor and president of Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, praised Francis’ comments as “significant…We are direct descendants from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation.”




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