Pope: God "is not a magician" and Big Bang and evolution are A-ok


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The retreat continues.
If it hasn’t already been done, can somebody make an infographic of hardline Catholic stances that they’ve backed out of in the last century or so?

Edit: I’m wrong, showing my lack of knowledge of Catholic-specific ideology (I grew up in a protestant household). Also, I didn’t mean to imply that it isn’t a good thing that this announcement was made…I just feel that pointing out hypocrisy (had there been hypocrisy) in the past can sometimes make a stronger case for pointing it out in the present.


I may be misreading you, but I get the sense you’re not appreciating the positives in this story. A segment of the world population is moving toward a more reasoned view–that’s a good thing. When you say “retreat” and “backed out of” it sounds like you’re faulting them for sense.


None of this is new. The catholic church has officially not had a problem with evolution for 65 years, and for 50 years before that just hadn’t said anything either way.

On the big bang theory they made official announcements at about the same time.

Even better the first person to propose BB was a catholic priest - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georges_Lemaître


The expanding universe theory was first proposed by a Catholic.
Not exactly a retreat…?


Snap! Jinx!


FTR, the Catholic Church has never had a hardline stance against evolution or cosmic origin; quite the opposite, in fact. Creationism is the province of evengelical Protestants.

Plenty more on the Catholic relationship to evolution in the Wikipedia article on the topic, but this quote from the future Cardinal Newman in 1868—just 11 years after Darwin’s opus—gives a taste:

As to the Divine Design, is it not an instance of incomprehensibly and
infinitely marvellous Wisdom and Design to have given certain laws to
matter millions of ages ago, which have surely and precisely worked out,
in the long course of those ages, those effects which He from the first
proposed. Mr. Darwin’s theory need not then to be atheistical, be it
true or not; it may simply be suggesting a larger idea of Divine
Prescience and Skill. Perhaps your friend has got a surer clue to guide
him than I have, who have never studied the question, and I do not [see]
that ‘the accidental evolution of organic beings’ is inconsistent with
divine design—It is accidental to us, not to God.


Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.
His understanding of how evolution works is a bit squishy.

we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything
So he’s backing away from the whole “omnipotent and omniscient” thing? But God’s still got his invisibility and mind reading powers, right?


I went to Catholic school in the 80s, and not only did we study evolution etc. in science classes, but in religion class we compared evolutionary theory to Genesis. The idea the teacher presented was not how opposed the two were, but how much Genesis managed to get right, despite the relative lack of scientific knowledge when it was first written down. He also pointed out contradictions in Genesis – I remember he noted light gets created twice, for instance.

FWIW, I left Catholicism for good well before the end of high school. This is actually one of the few things I’ll still defend the church about, just because what people say is so at odds with what was taught.


“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."

Now explain how exactly the big bang requires it.
If he’s saying a creator was needed to start off the big bang, then what created the creator?
If the creator didn’t need to be created, then neither did the big bang require a creator, therefore the creator is an unnecessary addition/complication…


'God is, however, the reason we are very, very rich. But it’s not magic, God just loves us, especially me"


A catholic priest started BoingBoing? I had no idea.


God of the gaps?


I don’t think so. It looks to me like he’s doubling down on the omnipotent and omniscient. He’s saying God created the conditions and precursors of evolution knowing full well exactly how everything would play out. This is a pretty close approximation of Leibnitz’ answer to the Problem of Evil, which Voltaire mocked so mercilessly in Candide - God has set everything up so that the greatest possible good will eventually result. Any suffering along the way is actually necessary, although we cannot see why that is so from our constrained viewpoints - and this is, in fact, the best of all possible worlds.

NOTE I don’t agree with any of the above, I’m just trying to show you what I think you’ve missed.


It is easy to say what something that does not exist is not.

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Far from a retreat (even keeping this history in mind), what could be more baller and canny than the pope taking stock of contemporary perceptions of his fold and flipping them on their head? He just redrew the lines of battle and suddenly we’re all in catholic territory!

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Kinda like when Life Savers began advertising their candy as 100% fat free.


If our viewpoints are constrained enough to to miss those details, what makes us think our viewpoints are expansive enough to conclusively determine that “the greatest possible good” is actually God’s purpose? Maybe it’s the other way around: All the good stuff along the way is necessary to our ultimate damnation. You can’t lose what you never had, after all.

Edit: Think of an inverted Book of Job.


So you’re saying that Christianity’s ultimate message is “the ends justify the means”? Or rather, you’re saying the pope is saying it.

So when are gay, lesbian, bisexual, trans*, queer, and women people going to be considered natural?