I’ve been seeing a lot of links to the remarks that Pope Francis made about the Big Bang theory and Evolution, namely that belief in these in no way comprises the Christian faith. It’s actually rather embarrassing that this is newsworthy. (Indeed, it’s clear that a number of reporters covering it didn’t understand this point—the skepticism in the Washington Post’s coverage shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the catholic position, calling the comments “provocative, seemingly progressive”…)
Quite serendipitously, I was reading Augustine’s Enchiridion this morning after Morning Prayer and chapter 9 jumped out at me. I doubt there is a clearer statement than this confirming the truth of the pope’s words and clarifying the catholic position as handed down by the Fathers. I’ll quote chapter 9 here in its entirety:
CHAP. 9.—WHAT WE ARE TO BELIEVE. IN REGARD TO NATURE IT IS NOT NECESSARY FOR THE CHRISTIAN TO KNOW MORE THAN THAT THE GOODNESS OF THE CREATOR IS THE CAUSE OF ALL THINGS
3. When, then, the question is asked what we are to believe in regard to religion, it is not necessary to probe into the nature of things, as was done by those whom the Greeks call physici; nor need we be in alarm lest the Christian should be ignorant of the force and number of the elements,—the motion, and order, and eclipses of the heavenly bodies; the form of the heavens; the species and the natures of animals, plants, stones, fountains, rivers, mountains; about chronology and distances; the signs of coming storms; and a thousand other things which those philosophers either have found out, or think they have found out. For even these men themselves, endowed though they are with so much genius, burning with zeal, abounding in leisure, tracking some things by the aid of human conjecture, searching into others with the aids of history and experience, have not found out all things; and even their boasted discoveries are oftener mere guesses than certain knowledge. It is enough for the Christian to believe that the only cause of all created things, whether heavenly or earthly, whether visible or invisible, is the goodness of the Creator, the one true God; and that nothing exists but Himself that does not derive its existence from Him; and that He is the Trinity—to wit, the Father, and the Son begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeding from the same Father, but one and the same Spirit of Father and Son.
Augustine of Hippo. (1887). The Enchiridion. In P. Schaff (Ed.), J. F. Shaw (Trans.), St. Augustin: On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises (Vol. 3, pp. 239–240). Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Company. (Emphasis added)
There you go—Augustine nails it. The key is that God is the Creator of heaven and earth. The hows and whys are immaterial with regard to the Faith.