Pope Trolls Creationists, Says Evolution Is A Thing
Pope Francis gave a lot of fundagelicals a sad Monday when he restated a fairly simple tenet of Catholic belief: There's no contradiction between faith and science, particularly the theory of evolution and the Big Bang.
Even though that's not exactly a new idea in Catholicism -- Yr Dok Zoom remembers being taught the same in catechism back in the early 1970s -- the prevalence of creationist nonsense among American fundamentalist Protestants leads lots of people to think that Catholicism is similarly anti-science. Jeez, you send a few astronomers to the Inquisition on heresy charges and suddenly everybody thinks you don't like science!
Still, Francis's vigorous advocacy of science was pretty refreshing in a world where a member of teh ouse Science Committee calls basic facts of biology and astrophysics "lies from the pit of hell" and where fear of the Ebola boogeyman is driving public health policy.*
Pope Francis made his remarks to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences -- which sounds like it would make a great setting for a steampunk novel -- during a meeting 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.”
Francis said the beginning of the world was not “a work of chaos” but created from a principle of love. He said sometimes competing beliefs in creation and evolution could co-exist.
“God is not a divine being 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.”
Oh, golly, that's going to upset American fundamentalists. So much for winning THEM over to Catholicism, Francis!
The Religious News Service noted that while Pope Benedict seemed to flirt with endorsing "intelligent design," Francis's statement marked a return to the definitive pro-science stance of Pius XII in 1950, who said there was no opposition between evolution and Catholic doctrine, as long as transitional species didn't wear little rubber devices on their john thomases to prevent issue.
As a big fan of the Jesuits, Yr Dok Zoom has never been especially worried about the Church and science; it made perfect sense to us that the narrator of Arthur C. Clarke's brilliant story "The Star" would be a Jesuit priest/astrophysicist (Just don't watch the terrible TV adaptation).
On the other end of the "Religion and Science can play nice" spectrum, here's Pat Robertson (who, surprisingly for a fundie, accepts evolution, although he thinks global warming is a commie science plot) explaining how climate change was real in Bible Times, but not good science today. You see, before the Flood, the atmosphere was just chock full of moisture, which then fell to Earth and flooded the whole planet, and afterward all the water went... uh, Biblical Inerrancy! It just went away, OK? Anyhow, Robertson apparently believes in a crazy evidence-free "theory" discussed in one of our Christian textbooks, and that theory explains why Noah lived 950 years and Methuselah 969 years:
Apparently, after the Flood there wasn’t as much moisture in the air, there weren’t as many bacteria, microbes and things like that and maybe the climate was such that assaults on our bodies weren’t as severe. But after the Flood, God said the years of a man is going to be 120 years. So that is where we ought to be shooting for, and if we're not living that long, it's because we're not living healthy lives.
Or maybe the Bible is a collection of mythical stories that have profound cultural significance, and are maybe even stories about the relationship between God and humans if you're into that sort of thing, but maybe they don't have to be literally true in order to be significant. Just tossing that out there.
*speaking of which, Hi, Rachel!
Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.