Pope Francis says evolution is real and God is no wizard

Nov 4, 2014

Photo: Osservatore Romano/Reuters

By Ishaan Tharoor

Delivering an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, Pope Francis continued his habit of making provocative, seemingly progressive statements. The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories regarding the expansion of our universe.

“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.”

The pope avoids gesturing at the thorny issue (at least for some Christians) of whether humans descended from apes. Atheists argue, moreover, that understanding the Big Bang and what emerged from that cosmic moment obviates a need to believe in a deity. On that count, Francis obviously disagrees. He repeated the idea of God not being a “magician,” an entity that conjured all into being.

“God is not… a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” Francis said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”


 

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29 comments on “Pope Francis says evolution is real and God is no wizard

  • @OP – “God is not… a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,” Francis said. “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”

    He still does not get it , that evolution by way of natural selection, IS the process that created “beings”!

    Chemical processes do not involve magic fairies, or magic fairy dust, even if those with chronic anthropomorphism have a psychological requirement for their magic beings to be involved in explanations of such physical matters.



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  • “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.

    So he’s banking everything on abiogenesis not working out. Oh, this is good. This is very good. I hope he stands by his bet…



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  • 5
    Miserablegit says:

    Once again the RCC continues on its merry way cherry picking science for the crumbs it thinks justifys it’s worthless religion and once again it is totally wrong.



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  • 7
    pvanderploeg says:

    The Pope is very good at PR. He did not really say evolution by natural selection is true. He said God created beings for evolution to act upon. That is NOT Evolution by Natural Selection but I fear many people do not know that little detail. So he seems to have made a step but in fact nothing substantial has changed.
    But who knows. Maybe as a next step the Pope will declare that God must have created some not very complex organic molecules in comets.



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  • @OP- Pope Francis says . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . God is no wizard

    Strange! The picture commissioned by his predecessors looks just like a wizard!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sistine_Chapel#mediaviewer/File:Creaci%C3%B3n_de_Ad%C3%A1m.jpg

    In fact some images suggest he can change his form by magic!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Spaghetti_Monster#mediaviewer/File:Touched_by_His_Noodly_Appendage.jpg

    Could this be the long awaited missing evidence??????



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  • phil rimmer Nov 4, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    @OP – “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.

    So he’s banking everything on abiogenesis not working out. Oh, this is good. This is very good. I hope he stands by his bet…

    He’s still got billions of years to bridge to connect his Xtian magic fairy story and his “non-magic” wizard, from the Big-Bang to the origins of life on Earth.
    That’s even before he tries to include, exorcisms, miracles and saints!
    Catholicism is Biblical mythology, not deism!

    (BTW: You can often tell a struggling theist, by the use of double or multiple negatives.)



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  • This is designed to put his flock at rest; the vast majority will think it’s true, and never think there’s any conflict between religion and science. They will never think of, or be afraid of, evolution ever again.



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  • The Pope claims evolutionary science is compatible with creationism… by talking about baseless claims, completely unsupported by rational enquiry at all, as though they were on par with established science. This is the best religion can offer: no automatic incompatibility between their notions and scientific ones? When this low benchmark is the best they can do, people consider this provocative and seemingly progressive? I feel like I’m watching a failed boy scout claiming he’s as good as the entire SAS.

    I wonder how much more of this charade can go on before people cotton on and start leaving the church in droves.



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  • Zeuglodon Nov 5, 2014 at 11:54 am

    When this low benchmark is the best they can do, people consider this provocative and seemingly progressive?
    I feel like I’m watching a failed boy scout claiming he’s as good as the entire SAS.

    I suppose it’s like watching a failed MP claiming he knows better than the entire medical profession and the scientific establishment!
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Tredinnick_%28politician%29
    That Dunning-Kruger Effect really works!

    I wonder how much more of this charade can go on before people cotton on and start leaving the church in droves.

    It seems to be inherent in human nature!
    Muppet voters keep supporting them time after time!



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  • 18
    Light Wave says:

    And here was me a mere humble atheist – imagining ‘Gud’ to be a bit like Kim Jong Gandalf…a North Korean kinda wizard….Damn the pope for changing my world view – but Darwin was always right Evolution is real….the popes view however – is Irrelevant….



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  • What he might mean is god is not a conjuror, but that is hardly a controversy.

    If the creation of the universe needed a pre-existing man with beard that is certainly “magic”. He is trying to gently break with tradition by spewing fog.

    Francis is like a US president. He cannot say the truth even if he knows it, for political reasons.



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  • 21
    mdhome says:

    The RCC still claims Adam and Eve to be the origins of humans, I see the reason we are so f***ed up, we are all the products of incest.



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  • 22
    Aber ration says:

    So has he worked out at what point in time god kicked off the process? That is quite an important question because the more recent it was the bigger the job it would have been as there would have been more species to create. Did he start around the time of the primate split when the first human could be said to have existed or did he start when the first cell divided?

    This is important because it raises so many other questions. If he started with the first cell division that makes him quite lazy and far more dependent on evolution to do all the work for him, so not a very impressive god really because scientists have nearly got that far with test tubes already.

    If he started much later then he had a much bigger job and that makes creation very impressive but it would make him a very big liar because he would have had to falsify all the evidence for earlier species that were born and became extinct before creation but for which we have evidence.

    You know, I am not sure he has actually thought this through.



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  • Aber ration Nov 7, 2014 at 4:33 am

    You know, I am not sure he has actually thought this through.

    Come on !
    You should know by now that “theocratic thought”, involves circular meanderings, starting with the faith-conclusion and filling in the gap between the first premise and the second arrival at the same conclusion, with plausible obfuscation!



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  • The pontiff appeared to endorse the theory of the Big Bang and told
    the gathering at the Vatican that there was no contradiction between
    believing in God as well as the prevailing scientific theories
    regarding the expansion of our universe.

    Yes, I agree with the pope. It follows an example about such absence of contradiction.

    Jeez and the Big Bang

    Jeez (skipping and humming somewhere in the Holy Nothing): Lalla lalla lalla, what? Dad’s lighter? I want to try it: “Fiat Lux!”

    Zack… BANG!

    The Alcoholy Spirit (shouting with anger): Jeezzz! How many times do I have to repeat You that You don’t have to toy with Dad’s lighter? Look! What a mess! You have wasted a Universal Firework! It will take Me milliards of years to put everything back in order into the Holy Nothing. I hope Dad doesn’t come to know it.

    Jeez (with childish boredom): And when will I learn Dad’s job if I don’t try?

    The Alcoholy Spirit: There is no reason that You learn it: Me, Dad and You, We are One Person, only One! But each of Us has to make its own part.

    Jeez (with suspicion): And which would it be My part?

    The Alcoholy Spirit: Your part is that of dying on the cross for saving the humankind from the Original Sin.

    Jeez (with amazement): The Original Sin? Which Original Sin?

    The Alcoholy Spirit (with sarcasm): Dad’s sin of having forgotten somewhere in the Holy Nothing a stupid lighter!

    Of course irony is the key.
    For further information about the Big Bang the pops and irony see the book of astrophysicist Margherita Hack entitled “La Mia Vita in Bicicletta” (My Life in Bicycle), Italy, 2011, pages 87-88 of 2013 edition.



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  • Dare I play devil’s advocate for a moment? On having a conversation with one of my in-laws recently I was told enthusiastically that both the ‘ Big Bang’ and evolution are probably true. This revelation is the direct result of the Pope’s endorsement.
    My relative is not a stupid man, being a barrister by profession, ( not sure of the American equivalent; attorney?)Anyway, he does not pour coffee, in case you’re wondering. He has also come to the conclusion that it’s probably more environmentally friendly to be cremated after his demise.
    My dangerous idea is this….is it better that the Pope makes some feeble attempt at modernity or should he stick to the ludicrous position of the YEC?



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  • .is it better that the Pope makes some feeble attempt at modernity or should he stick to the ludicrous position of the YEC?

    Looking more ridiculous has its attractions but in this instance, where there is more new material to come, probably in abiogenesis and possibly the Cambrian Spurt, a ton of stuff on neuro-evolution etc., etc., the opportunity to see the lumbering Magisterium caught out again and again could be more edifying. It is delicious to see their certain wisdom be shown as made up shit not fit for purpose even when “fixed”…



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  • Phil. It certainly puts the pope in an embarrassing position. I’d be embarrassed anyway. I was pleased that my relative was able to contemplate the change of stance after the papal seal of approval.
    I predict some fancy footwork is yet to come.



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  • Meanwhile we can see an example of thinking based for 5 years on “Catholic science education” in Italy!!!

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-29996872

    A group of Italian scientists convicted of manslaughter for failing to predict a deadly earthquake have had the verdict quashed.

    The seven men had been given six-year jail sentences after an earthquake devastated the medieval town of L’Aquila in 2009, killing 309 people.

    The verdict triggered alarm, with some saying that science itself had been put on trial.

    On Monday an appeals court cleared the group of the manslaughter charges.

    Judge Fabrizia Ida Francabandera ruled that there was no case to answer.

    “The credibility of Italy’s entire scientific community has been restored,” said Stefano Gresta, the president of the National Institute of Geophysics and Volcanology.

    The seven men – all leading scientists or disaster experts – had been members of a committee convened in L’Aquila in March 2009 following a series of tremors in the region.

    Days after they met, a 6.3 magnitude quake struck the town in the middle of the night.

    . . .

    Following the guilty verdicts, more than 5,000 scientists signed an open letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano in support of the experts.



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  • Usually I try not to replay to the comments of the other commentators because I fear unwanted discussions caused by my poor English language. In this case I do not resist to the temptation to say something about the L’Aquila earthquake and the Catholics.

    In Italy some persons do the battle against the advantage of the Catholics to expose exclusively their religious symbols in the public offices.

    Among the persons that do this battle for equality there is Judge Luigi Tosti.

    In 2003 Luigi Tosti was judge in Camerino, a city in a region on the Adriatic.

    The judge Luigi Tosti refused to do his work of judge in a courtroom where was exposed a crucifix. He asked to the Administration to remove the crucifix or to allow the exposition of the symbols of the other religions and homologous associations.

    To cut a long story short … because of the bizarre Italian laws, Luigi Tosti was submitted to criminal judgement in the tribunal of L’Aquila. The criminal trials in that tribunal were four, the first was in 2005, then there were two disciplinary trials, and some other. All the trials against him were based on the actions done by Luigi Tosti for the respect of equality and non-discrimination.

    When the first criminal trial was done in 2005 I went to L’Aquila, I went there to support Luigi Tosti, I went there as member of the Italian association of the atheists (UAAR), and I noticed that the palace of justice of L’Aquila was quite modern, recently built with the structure made of reinforced concrete. In some courtrooms there was the crucifix, into a courtroom there was a huge crucifix tall more than a meter.

    The poor Luigi Tosti received multiple heavy convictions but in the end he was judged innocent from the criminal imputations by the Court of Cassation. Disciplinary implications remained open.

    Then arrived the earthquake and they discovered that the palace of justice was built without enough cement because the palace was shattered by the seism.

    The money spent to buy the crucifixes was subtracted to those spent for buying the cement, but the crucifixes didn’t show a great structural help!

    At last, the Catholic organizations in L’Aquila managed to catch large amount of money of the taxpayers to repair or rebuild the Catholic buildings: churches, oratory, hostels, colleges, canteens and so forth.

    Oh yes, for someone the earthquake in L’Aquila – as somewhere else – was a great occasion to manage money.

    Luigi Tosti was removed from the office even though in his final trial he was reputed: not guilty.

    To me it seems that the only “compatibility” between science – of constructions – and religion that the Catholics follow is: money.



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