Yesterday, Pope Francis, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, said that Darwinian evolution is real, and so is the Big Bang, according to the Telegraph. Elsewhere in his speech to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, the Pope said:
“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 added: “He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfilment.
The Pope's stance on evolution and cosmology still leaves room for a divine creator, says the Telegraph, but places his or her role in the time before the birth of the universe as we know it.
The view, obviously, doesn't fully align with current scientific thought, says Cnet. Yet Giulio Giorello, a philosopher of science, said that he thinks the move is meant to “'reduce the emotion of dispute or presumed disputes' with science,” writes the Telegraph.
As io9 pointed out when Francis was first anointed, the new Pope's quasi-heretical claim isn't anywhere near the first of its kind. The church first brought evolution into the fold in 1950 with the work of Pope Pius XII, writes io9. “At the same time, Catholics take no issue with the Big Bang theory, along with cosmological, geological, and biological axioms touted by science.”
[I]n fact, the Roman Catholic Church has recognized Darwinian evolution for the past 60 years. It openly rejects Intelligent Design and Young Earth Creationism saying that it "pretends to be science." But the Church’s unique take on the theory, what it calls theistic evolution, still shows that Catholics have largely missed the point.
The idea that the idea of a creator and the tenets of Darwinian evolution overlap, writes Dvorsky, is a "'want my cake and eat it too' proposition that largely ignores the potency of Darwin’s dangerous idea as a God killer.”
Darwin’s theory provides for a stand alone system. Evolution is fully autonomous process that does not require any guiding “rationality” (Benedict’s term) to function. It’s an agonizingly slow, brutish, and insanely methodical process, but it works."
Pope Francis' statements yesterday bring the church's stance back in line with its historical position on scientific thought, and away from the creationist- and intelligent design-leaning views of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.