Pope Francis Says Evolution And The Big Bang Are Real

Pope Francis says evolution and the Big Bang are real

The Head of the Catholic Church has spoken: The Big Bang and Evolution are real -- God was not "a magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things," Pope Francis said at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences yesterday. He was surprisingly clear where his immediate predecessors were muddier.

The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos that owes its origin to something else, but it derives directly from a supreme principle that creates out of love. The Big Bang, that today is considered to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative intervention of God; on the contrary, it requires it. Evolution in nature is not in contrast with the notion of [divine] creation because evolution requires the creation of the beings that evolve.

When we read in Genesis the account of creation [we are] in danger of imagining that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things. But he is not.

According to this (clever!) Argentinian, God set the universe in motion, setting the rules that would create us and the universe. In the past, Pius XII, John Paul II, and Benedict XVII talked about similar topics. Pope John Paul II summarised the previous position in this address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences:

In his encyclical Humani Generis (1950), my predecessor Pius XII has already affirmed that there is no conflict between evolution and the doctrine of the faith regarding man and his vocation, provided that we do not lose sight of certain fixed points.

Taking into account the scientific research of the era, and also the proper requirements of theology, the encyclical Humani Generis treated the doctrine of "evolutionism" as a serious hypothesis, worthy of investigation and serious study, alongside the opposite hypothesis. Pius XII added two methodological conditions for this study: one could not adopt this opinion as if it were a certain and demonstrable doctrine, and one could not totally set aside the teaching Revelation on the relevant questions. He also set out the conditions on which this opinion would be compatible with the Christian faith -- a point to which I shall return.

But never a stance was taken so clearly from the Chair of Saint Peter as with Pope Francis.

Still, the Church says in her catechism that it's up to each individual to interpret Genesis literally or not. Most Catholic schools and universities, however, teach biology, evolution and cosmology, just like any other agnostic institution.

I can't wait to see this being talked about on network television.

Pope Francis says evolution and the Big Bang are real

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    I was just about to say, "grab the popcorn". Then I saw the picture at the end. Well played, :).

    Interesting. I wonder if the cardinals knew they were voting in an Apologist.

    I'm not catholic so I may have missed something but how does evolution fit in with the temptation and the fall of man?

      I'm a Protestant, so it may be a bit different, but in recent years, the literalness of Genesis has been de-emphasised, and it is now seen as more of an illustrative text on how the world and man was created, delivered in a style that would have been easily understood by the early Israelites.

        The fall of man is pretty important and whole point of why Jesus came.

        So either God created life flawed and sinful to begin with starting with the first celled creatures that eventually evolved into humans or once humans evolved a high enough intelligence to make choices, they were all tempted by the serpent?
        So does that mean that you have to be of a certain intelligence to be saved or have a soul? Does that mean people with intellectual disabilities don't have souls?

        This whole thing opens up a pretty big can of worms to a lot of the main tenets to their faith.

          No, it doesn't. It is very specific in what it addresses. It basically says that it is OK to believe in God and accept the truth of current scientific thinking on the creation of the universe. It is also the way the Catholic Church has seen the Bible for the last few hundred years, particularly the Old Testament, as allegorical rather than the literal truth. And there are plenty of scientists, people smarter than you or me, who believe that God set the Big Bang in motion and that the Earth is unique and special. (BTW, it is worth mentioning that I am a fervent Atheist but see this as an important step in limiting the spread of Creationism and other fundamental Christian dogma.)

          @darren, I might suggest that man reached a stage of development wherein they were capable of choosing to obey or disobey a command that was at odds with their natural curiosity. At this point God could put to an individual this command and the potential fall put into play.

            So basically each person has to fall?

              From a Christian perspective, each person already has. It's inherited.
              The point I was making was about whether Original Sin (i.e. Adam) could exist from both a scientific and scriptural point of view.

              Last edited 30/10/14 12:06 pm

                That's exactly what I was getting at. It's inherited. That inheritance comes from a single source - Adam. So was he the only guy around at the time or did all the other lines die out or what?

                  Well, Cain and Abel married somebody! I figure God, using whatever criteria he deemed appropriate picked Adam and said "Right - I'm starting with you". Same way he did with Abraham and Noah.

          This was covered in South Park when we learn that Timmy can't go to heaven.

        So you mean we can pick and choose what part of the story is real or not - and then base our lives around it. Seems legit.

          It's the Christian way. A couple lines in the old testament about homosexuality? EVIL! Multiple references in damn near every book about fornication and adultery? Enhhh...

      Yeah, this admittance by the Pope opens up a whole can of worms for the faith. If humans evolved and Adam and Eve didn't literally exist (i.e. fact), then the whole temptation and fall of man story never occurred, which means that Jesus didn't have to die for our sins, which shakes one of the core foundations the faith is built on.

      FWIW, I was raised Catholic but now identify as atheist. So I don't consider the above to be such a bad thing :P

        If anything, the man refered to as jesus died for the sins of his clan (clergymen?) specifically jude. He died a martyre for his faith, he knew he had to die for their sins of people, who are capable of sinning or not (duality). Once you start taking all of this talking to god and angels litrally then you open up the biggest can of worms. We are stilled weighed down by old dogma that has become irrelvant out side of the teachings of the dark ages.

        Not really. Most of the more established Christian sects have always looked on the bible was mostly symbolic, because they have to take in the entire thing and you can't take all that crazy contradictory fantasy fully literally if you're sensible. It was always newer more evangelical breakaway sects that took it all fully literally, in fact that difference was usually the reason FOR those sects to split in the first place.

    Hopefully this is the death knell for the Evolution Vs Creation debate in the US!

    Still doesn't answer the gaping logic flaw, that If everything must be created, who/what created God? (and then subsequently who/what created the creator of God etc etc etc)
    In other words, the argument that "complicated things must have been created" collapses under the weight of it's own logic.

      Not sure where you're getting this argument from, but it sounds like a confused version of the Kalam/Cosmological argument. The basic premise of which is: "Whatever begins to exist must have a cause".
      No one believes that God began to exist in some point in time, He exists eternally, therefore in this arguments needs no cause. I don't think anyone takes the "complicated things must have been created" line of logic seriously, that just sounds like a strawman to me.

        No, it is simply Occam's Razor. It is much easier to believe that the Big Bang simply occurred than to believe that some all-powerful being set it in motion. Of course, even if it could be proved that it was set in motion by an intelligence of some sort, that is still a far cry form the absolute garbage of the New Testament. For all anyone knows, the universe could have been set in motion by a failed high school experiment and might be playing itself out in God's garbage bin.

        I don't think anyone takes the "complicated things must have been created" line of logic seriously

        It's the main (if not sole) argument for creationism.
        And creationists certainly seem to take it seriously!

      Nope, they will just say the Pope is wrong, American Evangelists never listen to the Catholic church anyway.

      Read the 'odyssey' series by Arthur C Clarke. (Mainly 2001 and 2010 which get you thinking, 2061 and 3001 were pretty rubbish)

      Nopes, the creationist debate in America comes from the evangelical Christians. Not the Catholics.

      Over the years I have seen many people make reference to Catholics and creationists, while some certainly are, as the article mentions, going back to the 50s at least the church was saying evolution happened.

      I went to catholic schools in Australia for most of my schooling and we were always taught evolution and the old testament stories were stories from a primitive age used to explain what they didn't know. We were never taught any of that crap actually happened. It was always put in context. This includes at a primary school run by nuns. FYI not religious at all.

    According to this (clever!) Argentinian

    YAY, the pope is clever because he subscribes to my world view!!!
    Or are you saying that most Agentinians are't clever

    Classic Jesus

    Ok, good on him for trying to drag the church into a reality based system, but I still have a problem with it..! I have said for most of my life that the church just moves the goal posts whenever it feels like it, and that's just what's happening here... What..! you believe in a magical dude in the sky, that grants wishes if you put 'yer hands together and beg, but all of a sudden creationism looks a bit silly..?

    Last edited 29/10/14 9:02 am

      As someone who grew up in a remote public school to then go to a private catholic high school I can vouch this is literally true.

      But then take a step back and all religions do the same - "Right until proven wrong" is how religions even exist but then they subtlety change their stances to stay alive because it was actually proven wrong.

      The other one I don't like is people titling themselves as religious because their past family members were, where as you know the person isn't religiously spirited at all and uses it as an excuse for redemption... Now that really grinds my gears.

      The Catholic church has actually backed evolution for a long time. This is hardly news...

        Not like you can't back evolution...

        It's a scientific fact that evolution exists. It has been observed!

          Natural selection isn't evolution. Or have some creatures gained new features recently?

            Errr... Last I checked it was part of how evolution worked..!
            It's like... Natural, y'know...

            Last edited 29/10/14 3:11 pm

              You are? Please show me the evidence I'm genuinely curious

                Natural selection is the gradual process by which biological traits become either more or less common in a population as a function of the effect of inherited traits on the differential reproductive success of organisms interacting with their environment. It is a key mechanism of evolution.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Natural_selection
                Your shot...

                Last edited 29/10/14 3:44 pm

                  Natural selection is existing traits becoming more or less common.

            Natural selection is existing traits becoming more or less common.What's 'yer point... It's still a part of evolution..!

              Evolution is generally read to mean new traits emerging that didn't exist before like single celled organims > humans etc, not all the black moths dying out because everyone started painting their houses white or something.

                You can "generally" put whatever spin you want on it..! Won't stop it from being what it is..!

                  Natural selection is part of evolution. Yep, no issues there.

                  Natural selection is believed by all (unless they are utterly stupid). That is where the land in the sand is. Evolution 'past' that where you have stuff like new traits, that's what some don't believe.

          I suggest people look up what the scientific method is.

          Evolution has been observed in nature, it exists, it is real, it is fact. The theory of evolution is the description of what we have observed, it will always be a theory and until someone can describe it better or in more detail then it will remain as the most logical description/understanding.

      You forgot the money, you can't beg for the magical man to do things unless you pay lots of money too. Oh and giant auditoriums with state of the art audio visuals, without those god might not hear you.

    This is nothing new. Catholicism has accepted evolution for a long time. And need I remind everyone that the theory of the expanding universe was developed by a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, who argued against Einstein on the matter?

    Catholicism is awfully backward on a lot of subjects, but it is refreshingly happy to co-exist with science most of the time.

    Except maybe in the USA!

    @stevothedevo I'm afraid that doesn't help. What they actually claim is that everything that had a beginning (eg. the universe) had a cause for that beginning - ie. a creator. God, so they say, did not have a beginning and so was not created, and so "Who created God? is a non-question.

    Straw-man arguments will never get us very far.

      Seems odd when people try and claim that the universe can have a cause, or a beginning in the traditional sense, when the very concepts of causes and beginnings require a universe to exist within. After all these concepts require the reference frame of time, which is a part of the universe....

    You guys do know that Georges Lemaître a Catholic priest was one of the first to come up with the idea of the big bang right?

    I'm not religious at all but you would have to be an idiot to not recognize the contribution that Catholics have made to science.

      You'd have to be an idiot not to recognise the damage it's done too..!

        I think the point is, many believe the church has a much worse view towards science in the present and modern age than that actually deserve.

        Historically yes they have done bad things towards science. However historically they have also contributed a lot.

        It seems that in light of the negative actions in history they have kind of learnt their lesson and are not going to make the same mistakes again. So are willing to embrace science. Unless it's telling African's that condoms don't protect from Aids.

    We are all a part of something that is bigger than ourselves. The fact that some people resolve this truth by believing in any one particular faith is up to them. The fact that we have a current head of a major global faith, enabling this faith to move and adapt with the times, allows that faith to progress into the next 50-100 yrs until the next major theory is adapted by rational society. The main thing is that the catholic religion as an entity has been able to continue to survive and flourish due to its adaptability. Its the adaption of rational thinking alongside the irrefutable desire to be apart of something bigger, that makes this important.

      All I read then was... Move the goal posts to suit their needs.., :)

      "...to be apart of something bigger"

      What does that even mean? There's a pretty big scientific community that spans across the entire earth that has worked together to study the universe for 1000s of years (before many religions were invented, especially the abrahamic ones), I'd say that's pretty big. Religion can't just claim ownership of the concept of being a part of something that's 'bigger'.

    I find this amusing, it's the same thing Religions do every time we discover how things work through the methodology of Science that don't fit with thousand year old books.

    "Don't take the book literally silly, it's all just metaphor....etc etc"
    And then they just push the 'God/s' figure back a bit to where no one has found an answer yet.

    This one is pretty smart though, as we can never actually prove what happened before the big bang because there really wasn't a 'before' as time started with the big bang.

    Anyway, if it keeps religious types happy then so be it, if they can't see how silly the whole thing is by now then they never will.

    Last edited 29/10/14 10:21 am

      well, realistically we don't know that the big bang occurred either, it's just a theory (though the most plausible for sure)... you might want to look a little further though as there are a few seriously considered theories on what happened before the big bang... and the idea that this wasn't the first big bang...

        I have looked into this a fair amount actually. Given what we understand about Gravity and what has been observed using Telescopes we know that the Universe is expanding and that expansion is accelerating.

        This has one very important implication, at one point everything in the Universe was at a single infinitely dense and infinitely small point.

        So, we do know the big bang happened, it isn't a Theory that is debated, it's like the Theory of General Relativity or Evolution, we know they are true.

        Where the unknowns come in is what was the cause of the big bang (which can most likely never be known for obvious reasons) and can it happen again, has it happened before.

        Again though, there is no before, we understand that space and time are one in the same and they both came into existence during the big bang, so 'before' it there was nothing and therefore there is no before.

        Lawrence M. Krauss Theory for the cause of the big bang is one of my favorites, it works very well and invokes no external 'God/s' :)


        Last edited 29/10/14 11:16 am

          I guess I should have said "know", haha. I get what you mean, although there's currently nothing to say that there wasn't a time BEFORE time (as we currently know it)...

          Will have to add that book to my reading list, cheers!

            Yeah, we can't know it all for sure but all we have is what evidence points to. The Multiverse Theory is an interesting one as well suggesting infinite Universes and having the big bang as the reverse side of a blacks holes (or something like that, a little fuzzy myself on the specifics of that one). It's all really interesting stuff though.

            The book is a great read, you can watch the lecture here as well if you rather: http://youtu.be/sbsGYRArH_w

        "It's just a theory"

        Someone doesn't understand the scientific method!

    Wait, so God can't 'do all things'? Well that's a bit... disappointing.

      Well the idea of doing all things is self-contradictory anyway, as if he could do all things, that would include the ability to write a list of things he couldn't do....

        So God is nerfed for it's own safety? Makes sense.

    ... that God was a magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things. But he is not. Interesting, he's basically admitting that god is not omnipotent. Sounds like a potential "Get out of jail free" card for all the bad stuff happening in the world.

    He's also saying that god is still necessary for the creation of initial life which later evolved. This falls into the old trap of just because science hasn't yet pinpointed the origins of life, that must mean "god did it".

    The problem is that this isn’t true. While the Pope may say that evolution is real. The evolution he is talking about isn’t the proper scientific understanding of evolution. Natural evolution has no purpose; no goal. Evolution didn’t evolve us to the state we are in now with humans in mind, however the Pope seems to think that his god used evolution in order to create man; so hence some sort of purpose driven process. This simply isn’t the case. So what the Catholic Church accepts as evolution isn’t strictly what we know evolution to be.

      For a drunken man you seem to think pretty clearly. Have an upvote :)

    I am not religious but my wife is so to devout Catholics if Genasis is not true (which the pope is saying it is not) then everything else in the religion falls apart.
    I am surprised this has not been on the news as the pope saying genesis should not be literally interpreted is basically saying (everything about the religion is wrong.)

    "God was not “a magician, complete with a magic wand that can do all things,”"

    Actually, we can draw some important conclusions from this:

    1: It appears that God is not a magician. Conversely, I am quite handy at magic tricks. Win!

    2: If the omnipotent God can't do actual magic, presumably neither can the warlocks and witches the 'good book' instructs us to kill. This should make it much easier to kill them, though the reasoning behind doing so seems more tenuous.

    3: God possesses no omnipotent magic wands. So if God advertises one on Ebay, you might want to be suspicious. Of course, this only makes any omnipotent magic wands advertised by others more credible if you accept that a nonzero number of such items exist.

    Thing I don't get is why does everyone seem to think the Bible is a science book?

    I personally don't know any Christians that believe Adam and eve actually existed, genesis is a story. Was anyone actually there? No. Perhaps if the text had been cut like some other books it would be preferable in this day and age but thousands of years ago, an understanding of a creator lighting the fuse that kicked off the universe was included because it was deemed a necessary element regarding what people were really dying for when persecuted and tortured by the Roman empire.

    Science teaches us an important truth about ourselves and what we are, we are also however, a being of limitations with an inherent limited understanding (despite our achievements) of which physics based equation we find ourselves a part of.

      There are a couple of fairly specific genealogies in the Bible indicating a direct path from Jesus back through David, Jacob, Noah etc. through to Adam. Adam as an individual seems to be pretty strongly indicated in the scriptures.

    In the beginning there was nothing... then it exploded!!
    Cause you know, nothing tends to explode and cause stuff to exist.
    People are such ignorant idiots. One day, you'll find out how wrong you are. And by then it will be too late. I for one, wish to get in an early "HA HAAA!!!!"

      Of course, "In the beginning" there was also no time, so words like "then" loose their meaning. Matter also did not exist as we know it as the substrate for matter to exist in was not, so it's pretty easy to be wrong when you're being flippant.
      Meet me 10 seconds in and then we'll talk!

    So let me get this right, you change the entire foundation of your religion because of evidence that majority of atheists... and then try to use this basis as proof that god exists? Must be desperate.

      I'm trying to follow the grammar of your statement but I'm getting lost. I'd really like to comment on the substance of this, but I don't want to misrepresent your point. Can you clarify?

    The Bible and evolution cannot coexist. One man is doing so much damage to an already badly damaged faith and as a pope you would think he would at least be a man of conviction, willing to stick to the principles he claims to believe instead of compromising his entire foundation however flawed the world may view it.

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