The internet exploded on Tuesday when Pope Francis said God is not “a magician with a magic wand,” and that the Big Bang and the theory of evolution were not inconsistent with the Catholic Church's principles. Sure, evolution has been accepted by the Church for more than 60 years, but that won’t stop the internet from fanning Francis with adoration for being so awesomely “progressive.”
In 1950, Pope Pius XII said that there was no conflict between Christianity and Darwin’s theory of evolution. Let’s go ahead and note that this was three years before DNA was even discovered, so his ability to get with science should be lauded as pretty notable.
And while fundamentalist Christians have been bitching about evolution but not creationism being taught in public schools, Catholic schools teach evolution without controversy or complaint. In 2004, Bishop Francis X. DiLorenzo, who chairs the Church’s Committee on Science and Human Values, said that “the Church does not need to fear evolution,” and that “Catholic Schools should continue teaching evolution as a scientific theory backed by convincing evidence.” A year later, Fr. George Coyne, who was the Vatican’s chief astronomer, said, “Intelligent design isn’t science even though it pretends to be. If you want to teach it in schools, intelligent design should be taught when religion or cultural history is taught, not science.”
Also, the Big Bang Theory was initially proposed by a Catholic priest. So, there’s that.
But Pope Francis (because he’s a lot cooler than the last Pope, and has said some definitely cool -- or at least not horrendous -- stuff about gays and women in the church) gets the credit for this decades-old policy because the internet loves him. So, upon the not-so-notable announcement, his fan club proceeded to fill the internet with factually incorrect drivel.
Like this, from Jezebel:
Holy canoli (sic), this pope is tearing it up and is showing no signs of slowing down. First Despite previous Pope Benedict XVI (aka Uncle Ben)’s firm beliefs on creationism, Monday, the chill as fuck Pope has decreed that God is “not a magician with a magic wand.” Oh shit.
The media is spinning this as a huge break from Pope Benedict XVI's view on evolution, and while it’s a little more progressive than Benedict's, Francis view on evolution isn’t any more “out there” than Pius', and certainly isn’t more radical than Pope John Paul II’s.
We cannot say: creation or evolution, inasmuch as these two things respond to two different realities. The story of the dust of the earth and the breath of God … does not in fact explain how human persons come to be but rather what they are. It explains their inmost origin and casts light on the project that they are. And, vice versa, the theory of evolution seeks to understand and describe biological developments. But in so doing it cannot explain where the ‘project’ of human persons comes from, nor their inner origin, nor their particular nature. To that extent we are faced here with two complementary — rather than mutually exclusive — realities.
In other words, unlike what Jezebel said, Benedict believed in both evolution and creationism as “complementary” ideas. But what do you expect from a publication that can’t even spell “cannoli” right?
So, while Francis might just be “chill as fuck,” his views are not far off from Benedict’s. Francis said that “evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.” In other words, God created things, then those things evolved. Sound familiar?
Definitely not an “Oh shit” kind of moment.
Imagine credit: Agência Brasil/Creative Commons Licensed