Now that I’ve gotten your attention, this post is not about the TV series but about the actual theory and the Catholic Church. My notions of the Catholic church are largely borrowed from the Dan Brown novels and the corresponding movies – Angels and Demons and The Da Vinci Code. However, one thing is for sure, the Catholic Church believes in creationism as apposed to the theory of evolution. Creationism is basically when things appear out of thin air, however evolution is the process backed by scientific data which says that it is a gradual and a slow process and we basically came from apes.
Usually, the scientific theory of how the world began, that is the theory of evolution, including The Big Bang is an either/or concept where the religious believers are against atheists. Religious believers believe in the theory of creationism where they believe that God himself created the world, human beings as well as every other living organisms. These theories were believed to be contrary to each other. The scientific evidence found in support of the theory of evolution has defeated the the theory of creationism at every cornerstone. However, a new middle ground which never existed before now, has been created by the current Pope.
Pope Francis made an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, where he continued his habit of making provocative and progressive statements. The pontiff seemed to have agreed to the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no conflict between believing in God as well as in the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion and beginning of our universe. Pope Francis encouraged scientists at the session to continue their work with not the intention of making the two poles meet, but to help humankind.
About the Pope
Pope Francis is the reigning pope of the Catholic Church, in which, he is both Bishop of Rome and absolute Sovereign of the Vatican City State and commands the respect of all Catholic Christians around the world. Popular mainstream media have frequently portrayed Pope Francis either as a progressive papal reformer or with liberal, moderate values.
The current pope is not only defined by the stand he took on The Big Bang. Pope Francis, this year, had urged the people to treat homosexuals equally and with the same respect. Even though, he himself is opposed to same-sex marriages, he still thinks that they should not be marginalised and be treated equally in the society and by the Church.
Before Pope Francis
Both Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II had softened the Church’s stance on science during their time in the office. In 1996, John Paul II called the Big Bang theory “more than a hypothesis.” But in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI seemed to dismiss the acceptance of science in the creation of the universe. Benedict also stuck with the long-standing theory that only God was responsible for a grand design, with little wiggle room for interpretation.
The point that God is responsible for creating the humans who developed the science behind evolution is a very small step into a brave new world for the Church, who were responsible for the excommunication of Galileo in the 17th century for anti-Church teaching, including his notion that the earth revolves around the sun. Galileo eventually was forgiven, some 400 years later, and given a post-mortem pardon in 2008, but the Church has always remained staunch in its belief that God ultimately is responsible for the world we know today.
The Address of Creating a Middle Ground
Speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope made comments which experts said put an end to the “pseudo theories” of creationism and intelligent design that some argue were encouraged by his predecessor, Benedict XVI.
Acoording to current Pope Francis, he claimed that when we read about creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a Magic Wand, able to do anything, which is not true. He further states that God created human beings and He let them develop according to internal laws to reach fulfillment. Francis explained that both scientific theories were not incompatible with the existence of a creator – arguing instead that they “require it”.
The pope avoids talking about the thorny issue (at least for some Christians) of whether humans descended from apes. Atheists have argued that the understanding of the Big Bang and what emerged from that cosmic moment makes people believe in the existence of a supernatural power at hand. To this the Pope repeated the idea of God not being a “magician,” an entity that conjured all into being.
According to the Pope, evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve. In other words, he said that God is more a clockmaker than a conjurer of miracles.
Such thinking is not new for the Catholic Church, which for six decades — since the reforms of Pope Pius XII — has taken up belief about evolutionary creationism that means that they are views that regard religious teachings about God as compatible with modern scientific understanding about biological evolution. That is however dependant, of course, on the fundamental acceptance of a higher power.