In a surprising turn of events, the current pope said that evolution and the Big Bang are not, in fact, devilishly contradictory to religious doctrines like Catholicism. Scientific theory for Pope Francis is a necessary pillar of understanding our origins, and to him, fits in nicely with the existence of a divine entity. His speech at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences was an enjoyably shocking move, and an interesting contrast to Benedict XVI.
According to coverage by the UK’s The Independent, this semi-new and very rad pope declared that god, in creating the universe, is not “a magician with a magic wand,” going against all those folks that believe that Earth just popped out of god’s brain one day. The Big Bang and evolution should, to Francis, be accepted as integral in the study of where in the heck we all came from and why we’re here.
The Independent, as well as other news sources, cited the pope as saying that, “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
Now, as is always the case when a leader says a thing, the Internet is bubbling with the implications of the pope’s statements. Some commenters have argued that these statements, defending science and its friendly parallel existence with religious thought, will change nothing, and others have vehemently called Francis a socialist (wait, what?). Science and religion have always been bitter rivals, especially regarding the issue of creation; remember our boy Galileo and what happened to him when he told everyone to stop being so planetarily egotistical?
Realistically, the pope’s speech isn’t going to change everything forever, but it could serve to extract powerful minds on either side of the science/religion chasm from their high horses. This all suggests that you can be a scientific Catholic, or a religious scientist; it’s like the Jerry Maguire of ideological lifestyle proposals (“Help me help you!”). Believing in an all-powerful entity doesn’t mean you can’t also believe that said entity didn’t leave the universe up to evolution and the chaos we now study as science. Or something.
Really, at the end of the day, this is more a pleasant reminder that some powerful minds in the religious world can be smilingly accepting of science. Bill Nye is probably real pleased with the implications of this here pope and his urging to examine both fields of thought, while Neil DeGrasse Tyson and Richard Dawkins are busy harumphing about how the pope suggests that divine creation still started it all (at least, this is how it goes in my imagination, where Neil and Dick are the only attendees at the world’s saddest kegger).
I’m not staunchly on either side. As a pseudo-Buddhist crazy person whose received more eye rolls than most other humans you’d encounter, my opinion is simply that Francis’ need to speak up about this is a triumph for people with rational brains. Religion, in the standard sense, asks the believer to agree with the doctrine without question, while science has the tendency to manufacture extreme cynics. Remember that time Bill Nye argued against a famous creationist and all it really was a marketing thing and no real points got made? Yeah, that was a waste of dollars.
Whether you lean more towards the world of science and religion, the important lesson here is: shut your face and accept that people are gonna believe and study different stuff, and there’s room for all kinds of rambling and experimentation. We get so emotionally invested in our discoveries, understandings, and beliefs, and that passionate compulsion to prove whichever of those thoughts right generates a whole lotta idiocy evolved from supposed intelligence.
But also, did the pope just disprove magic? Now that’s a Halloween miracle.