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.