Pope Francis said earlier this week that the theories of the big bang and evolution were not incompatible with the existence of a creator; instead, they “require it.” “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…God created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfilment.”
With this statement, the media embraced Pope Francis yet once again with open arms, while hailing him as a modern hero and a forward thinking Pope, unlike the Popes of the past. But did Pope Francis really come up with a brand new revelation or teaching? The answer is an unexciting “No.”Back in 1950, Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical letter entitled “Humani Generis” to give direction to Catholics in matters of creation and evolution: the evolutionary theory is not incompatible with the Church’s teaching. However, the Church did point out that the idea of natural selection on its own is insufficient to explain the complexity of the world. As Cardinal Schoenborn said in 2005, “evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense – an unguided, unplanned process – is not.” This claim is backed by respected scientists such as Giovanni Bignami, a professor and president of Italy’s National Institute for Astrophysics, who told the Italian news agency Adnkronos: “The pope’s statement is significant. We are the direct descendants from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation.”
In an attempt to answer one of the biggest questions about evolution, “Is diversification a predetermined process or is it partly driven by chance events?” Dr. Michael Doebeli, a mathematician and evolutionary biologist at the University of British Columbia and postdoctoral researcher, Dr. Matthew Herron, conducted three separate experiments under the same laboratory conditions last year. They observed 1,000 generations of E. coli bacteria as they evolved into two different strains – a process known as diversification – that eventually gave rise to separate species. Doebeli, however, was surprised to discover that in his study, all three bacterial populations evolved in almost exactly the same way, suggesting that chance or randomness does not play as big a role as believed, at least not over a short period of time, as are 1,000 generations. Not only did the bacteria go through similar mutations, but similar changes in the populations occurred at similar times. The conclusion: “evolution is surprisingly predictable and its course seems relatively unaffected by chance events.” Thus, if evolution were predictable, than evolution by blind chance is not entirely scientific. And if something is not scientific, it requires faith to believe. But faith I already have, faith in evolution and in God who is the mastermind behind evolution.