On Monday, Pope Francis addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences at a plenary session at which a bronze bust of his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, was inaugurated. He praised the pope emeritus saying, “As you well know, his love for truth is not limited to theology and philosophy, but is open to the sciences,” mentioning that Pope Benedict appointed many of the Academy’s member, including its current president.
What the media picked up on, however, came after. In the middle of his address—a full translation can be read here—which, appropriately, spoke about the relationship between science and faith, Pope Francis made what many secular observers considered to be radical statements (emphasis my own):
“When we read in Genesis the account of Creation, we risk imagining that God was a magician, with such a magic wand as to be able to do everything. However, it was not like that…And thus creation went forward for centuries and centuries, millennia and millennia until it became what we know today, in fact because God is not a demiurge or a magician, but the Creator who gives being to all entities.”
“The Big-Bang, that is placed today at the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine intervention but exacts it. The evolution in nature is not opposed to the notion of Creation, because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.”
If you search “Pope Francis, evolution,” on Google, the first thing you see is a picture of the pontiff, looking sad and defeated, that The Independent ran with the headline, “Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God isn’t ‘a magician with a magic wand.” His expression reminds me of an eleven-year-old who didn’t get a letter from Hogwarts.