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Pope Francis addressed the Pontifical Academy of the Sciences yesterday and made some bold statements about his perspectives on the the origin of the universe, evolution, and the history of mankind.
Some of his comments:
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.
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.
He gave autonomy to the beings of the universe at the same time at which he assured them of his continuous presence, giving being to every reality, and so creation continued for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia, until it became which we know today, precisely because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the creator who gives being to all things.
God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life. Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.
Without a doubt, the Pope is wading into very controversial waters here.
On one hand, there are Biblical literalists who contend that any other understanding of creation, other that what Genesis specifically states, is theologically and scientifically wrong.
On the other hand, atheists and agnostics accept the idea of the big bang and evolution and, by doing so, reject the notion of any one creator at all.
And then there's everyone else in between.
Historically, the Catholic church has not rejected evolution, but it has always insisted that a single creator was intimately involved in the process and is also specifically responsible for the existence of a soul in every human.
However, as science has advanced and brought into question more and more of the literal Genesis account of creation, that Heaven and Earth were created in six days, the church has taken steps to accommodate such findings to be consistent with its theology.