Science Receives the Pope’s Support — Pete Macke

Posted on December 15, 2014 by


Religion and science have always been seen as two opposite ends of the spectrum. True believers of each have been at battle with each other for years. By the way each group perceives each other, you would think that there would be absolutely no way they could find compromise. That is until the new pope of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis, came along to try and make some sort of peace. After years of turmoil, the highest Christian leader has declared the Church’s stance. The new pope has stated that scientific theories, such as “The Big Bang” theory and evolution, do not oppose Catholic beliefs. While this seems like big news, it is actually not a radical idea isolated by Pope Francis. The Catholic Church, for the most part, has been accepting of ideas derived from science throughout its history. It is actually the common people that have been unwilling to accept these ideas. Evangelicals, especially in the United States, view these scientific theories as a direct attack on their religious beliefs. However, Pope Francis has interjected on this idea of science being a heresy. Since these statements from the pope, there have been hundreds of articles written to try and convey that science and religion can go hand-in-hand. In particular, I read an article, titled, “Pope Francis declares evolution and Big Bang theory are real and God is not ‘a magician with a magic wand,’” written by Adam Withnall, on “The Independent” website. “The Independent,” is a British-based news source that is noted for being largely in the center politically, but tends to lean left on some issues. Either way, the bulk of the article was dominated by quotes from the Pope and other people of expert opinion. For example, Pope Frances is quoted discussing the big bang and evolution, “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.” The pope is further quoted, “Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.” The author also illustrates how previous popes were also in alignment with science. It is described how the current pope is following the lead of past popes. The author said, “But Pope Francis’ comments were more in keeping with the progressive work of Pope Pius XII, who opened the door to the idea of evolution and actively welcomed the Big Bang theory.” The author also wrote, “In 1996, John Paul II went further and suggested evolution was “more than a hypothesis” and “effectively proven fact.”” These are all examples of how popes of the Catholic Church have stood behind scientists. Withnall’s goal, and the goal of the pope, is to show that the Church believes these scientific discoveries are credible. An astrophysicist named, Giovanni Bignami, called the pope’s statements, “significant.” Withnall was straightforward with the information in the article, and was able to refrain from any opinionated statements. Besides this direct approach, I thought the article was also successful because he let the pope and others do the talking; he did not try to push any Evangelical buttons with his own words. There was no harsh language or generalizations to describe people who would oppose the ideas being talked about. A person that challenges science theories should be able to begin to try and consider the possibility of there being truth to these scientific claims after reading this article. This article and all the others out there like it are good forms of a medium to tone down the general loathing Evangelicals have for science. This exact idea of being a medium is also being claimed by, Giulio Giorello, a professor of the philosophy of science at Milan’s University degli Studi, to be the reason for the present pope’s words. He is quoted in Withnall’s article saying that he thought the pope was “trying to reduce the emotion of dispute or presumed disputes.” All of these notions feed into the idea of not letting emotion get in the way of the truth. Fact-based information treats biasness. This, however, is not always a standard held when it comes to the media nowadays. In my opinion, most political or religious articles are full of fallacies. However, an article like this actually gets it right. This article did a great job and news writers everywhere are also using the pope’s words to help resolve the controversy induced by the clash between religion and science. These articles are trying to pass along a message from the pope, go ahead and listen.

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