By Stephanie Siok
The concepts of evolution and religion are difficult to reconcile, and therefore tough to bring up at the dinner table. Pope Francis has broken the ice by making a bold statement, as he is known to do: you can believe in God, evolution and the Big Bang Theory.
As a Catholic, this sparked my interest into Pope Francis’ reasoning, and how both sides, the scientists and the faithfully religious, would react.
I grew up believing, and still do believe, that God created the universe. Not just the Earth, sun and moon. I believe He created the galaxies, even the ones we as humans have yet to discover. I believe there is a reason we have been making more and more discoveries of outer space, because God gave us the talents and skills to figure all this out.
The Big Bang Theory is a complicated theory to understand, especially if you are not an astrophysicist, like Steven Hawking. Even Hawking, an outspoken atheist, said in a presentation at the University of Cambridge that there is a probable higher power or force of intelligent design behind the making of the universe.
On the flip side, there are astronomer-priests that confirm that indeed, the Big Bang Theory is real. Reverend Monsignor Georges Lemaitre was a physicist, astronomer, mathematician and, that’s right, a Roman Catholic priest. He was the first to propose the theory of the expansion of the universe. It was actually Lemaitre who, in the 1920s, proposed the Big Bang Theory we all know today. Lemaitre laid footprints for scientists, such as Hawking, to continue advancing the knowledge we have of the creation of the world.
Fast forward to 2017. Pope Francis, one of the most outspoken, controversial, progressive Popes the Roman Catholic church has had, addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in November of 2016. This academy is made up of scientists assigned by the Pope, regardless of religious affiliation, to work on scientific theory.
“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,” Pope Francis said in his address. “But that is not so. The Big Bang, that is placed today at the origin of the world, does not contradict the divine intervention, but exacts it.”
Now, unless you are a Sedevacantist (a traditional Roman Catholic who does not believe in the mainstream Pope) or a very traditional Catholic, Francis’ statement is agreeable. For me, a progressive Catholic, I see no problem in the belief of both universal expansion theories and God. At the same time, I can understand why scientists and atheists strive to keep God out of the picture. We live in a world in which the amount of religious believers is shrinking, and the overall attitude is a secular one. I suppose scientists figure they should keep out something that most people do not agree with or believe anyway.
However, I think it is impossible to ignore God’s role in the creation of the universe. As theology teaches us, it is too big of a mystery for humans to be able to completely solve, for it is taught that God’s being is so much of a mystery that we will never be able to fully grasp it until we are with Him in heaven.
Deep stuff, I know.