Misleading headlines are exactly that: misleading. Those who know little about Catholic history are shocked. The sad part is that some of these articles actually do mention theistic evolution has been a part of Catholic teachings for at least six decades.Ariane’s thread #1-1b | Nope, the Church hasn’t really changed its mind on Evolution
This sums up pretty well Kara Gordon’s reporting for The Altantic on the media frenzy over some of the statements made by Pop Francis on the compatibility between science (on evolution) and faith during his last address to the Pontifical Academy of Science.
However, as she points out, there is nothing revolutionary in his saying that:
“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.”
For her, the main reason why people are cheering over this statement is mostly because too many, including in the medias, seem unable to live with the idea that science and religion are actually quite incompatible. It is indeed always possible to build bridges between these two world views, but only through quite an acrobatic intellectual contortion. Because, the last part of the statement, emphasized by Kara Gordon, just takes us back to what is so fundamental for believers: the idea that there is a will (or an intelligent designer) behind all of it, a will called God. This implies that evolution is being directed somehow by God, either directly or indirectly, through mysterious rules set out by him (and which no so-called « creationist scientists » seems too keen to try and figure out). Basically, this is what has been designated as theistic evolution.
In other words, this is a mere attempt to force science into the religious mold and try to make it fit into it somehow. For anyone a bit familiar with the basic tenets of evolution, the problem arising from this intellectual operation is quite obvious: evolution is the result of dynamic multiple mutual influences of living organisms (from the various kingdoms of life) one another and therefore, has no specific goal. Or at least, no specific anthropocentric goal set up by a God who’s concerned about our well-being and fate.