by Graham Pierrepoint
The lines between science and religion – and evolution and creationism – have been drawn for considerable years now. Pope Francis I, however, has been perhaps the most progressive papal leader we have witnessed for some time – he has been open about investigations into child abuse in the Catholic Church, has confirmed that all animals go to heaven and has even ditched his own ‘Popemobile’ in favor of riding the bus – this is a theological figurehead unlike any other. This week, he has made a statement which will bring joy to many and create debate with others – as he has potentially ended a whole legion of evolution vs creationism queries that have been bubbling over for decades.
“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,” the Pope advised. “The Big Bang, which today we hold to be the origin of the world, does not contradict the intervention of the divine creator but, rather, requires it. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
Pope Francis’ comments have been welcomed by many as it appears this stance effectively sews together an answer that could satisfy both sides of the argument – to some extent. His predecessor, Benedict XVI, leaned more towards creationism – however, the Pope prior, John Paul II, had publicly acknowledged that evolution was ‘effectively proven’. However, despite these statements, such divisions between religion and science have persisted – in the name of finding an answer to some of our biggest questions!
The Pope’s words come shortly after the passing of Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s leading physicists and authors on scientific theory pertaining to the origins of the universe. While critical of religion during his lifetime, it would have been interesting to hear Hawking’s take on Francis’ words – it is sad that he did not live to hear this latest progressive statement from our current Pope. What would Hawking have said? Is there room for both science and religion to be right? Despite the Pope’s words holding a huge amount of weight and importance in the Catholic Church, the debate over ‘who is right’ may, sadly, spin on a few more years.