Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Pope Francis is a creationist

The media is giving much attention to a few things that the Pope said at The Pontifical Academy of Sciences (yes, you read that right) a couple of days ago.

Here are some quotes from Francis:
-“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...
-“He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfilment...
-“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
-“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...
-“God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life...
Please, make no mistake about this: the Pope is a creationist.

His chosen sentences were seething with creationism. He's just not a young-Earth, Genesis-is-literally-true creationist. He is a God-used-whatever-science-tells-us-happened creationist.

I'm not sure which is more intellectually dishonest.

And despite what the Pope says, God surely is a magician to have gotten it all going.

In an age where magic is frowned upon more than it has been in history, it's in Francis' obvious interest to distance God from magic and approximate Him to the findings of science. Pity that he doesn't realize that as far as explanations go, magic and God are both horrible.


  1. The fact is that "magic" (especially in the sense of witchcraft) and "science" are twins, both achieving their forms post-Reformation. (Joan of Arc was burned by the civil authorites for heresy.) Both are rooted in the notion of making the world do what we want it to do. Now, one of the twins has been wildly successful while the other much less so! The Reformation was also the beginning of the idea of biblical literalism. Indeed, St. Augustine of Hippo warned against literalism way back in the fifth century.
    The magician's impulse is to alter the world to suit him/herself. The Judaeo-Christian impulse is to accept the world as God's gift while at the same time striving to improve our human response to the loving gift, to tikkun olem (repair the world) as the Jewish scholars say.
    Yorgo and I have been down this path before: I maintain that belief in a creator is not irrational. Certainly, the existence of a creator is not scientifically verifiable but science does not hold a monopoly on rationality. To claim this is to claim that people like Plato, Aristotle and Jesus were irrational and that rationality popped up only when modern science arose.----Johnston Smith

  2. Yes, we have been down this road before, Johnston, and I never implied anything like “science has a monopoly on rationality”.

    Most philosophers don’t do science, but pride themselves first and foremost on being rational. As far as the rationality of God belief goes, then, it doesn’t look particularly good for you that the vast majority of philosophers are atheists or agnostic (

    Science is not rooted in the idea of making the world do what we want. *Technology* is one of the byproducts of science, but science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe. The principles that found science are those that ground the acquisition of all knowledge. Science is just the most intellectually rigorous method we have of acquiring knowledge.

    What I said when we went down this road is available here:

    I can sum that up by saying that the rationality of existential claims reduces to justification by reason and evidence. You didn’t seem to disagree with that then. Do you disagree now?

    Have you got some other, magical way of knowing what does and doesn't exist?

  3. My memory has bee jogged a little. Not only did you not object to the idea that existential claims reduce to questions addressed by reason and evidence, you offered an abductive argument for the existence of God that was a version of the argument from morality:

    "I suggest that the idea of a compassionate, loving God WHO SEZ better explains our human yearning for an assertion of justice than does the proposition that there is no such God"

    I followed up with the following 2 blog posts:

    I did not hear back from you ...