As you may have read, Pope Francis recently made some interesting remarks on evolution and the Big Bang. The media coverage of those remarks has been pretty confused, to say the least, and often hostile.
Here’s what I believe the Pope actually said (translations may differ):
“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything. However, it was not like that… And thus creation went forward for centuries, millennia and millennia until it became what we know today, in fact because God is not a demiurge [demigod] or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities.”
“The Big Bang, which is today posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine act of creation; rather, it requires it. Evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”
Now the Pope is not a scientist, but I think he got it pretty right. The Big Bang is a theory of creation. It stuns me how often people don’t get that. I was on a syndicated radio program, and the host said to me something like – “Religious people believe in creation, but scientists have the Big Bang Theory.” The Big Bang is all about creation – all of time and space and matter and energy created in a single instance from absolute nothingness. It is scientific verification of the first words of the Book of Genesis. Until the 1965 discovery of relic photons from the Big Bang, many scientists objected to the Big Bang Theory because they said it was too religious. Now that it is mainstream, accepted science, atheists somehow want to pretend that it is contrary to God.
As for evolution, the key point to keep in mind is that the Pope is using that word in its normal sense – as a process of change. He certainly isn’t referring to Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution. What the Pope is saying is that life evolved over billions of years into what we see today, that all of life was not teleported onto this planet, that God worked over billions of years to create each species. That is absolutely consistent with the scientific evidence. As I’ve noted before, Darwin’s theory of unguided evolution has been emphatically disproved in recent years, although you won’t find much evidence of that in the popular media. But mainstream evidence, such as the findings of 450 scientists working on the ENCODE project to map the human genome, that our DNA is mostly or entirely functional and has more than one level of information buried in it, clearly disproves unguided evolution.
So the Pope got it right. I’m not a Roman Catholic, but I’m finding a lot about Pope Francis to like.
Thanks for reading.