Pope Francis gets it. He just endorsed evolution and the Big Bang. So, he gets it. Right?
The pope has been using his influence at the head of the Roman Catholic Church to modernize; and he’s doing it at a time when the church needs it. Let’s face it though, the church always seems to need it, always seems to need more bodies in the pews, a revival, or a booster shot. That’s easier said than done when its chief dogma, or laws, are generally considered to be at odds with notions most of us now take for granted: the acceptance of evolution, the acceptance of gay rights and gay marriage, and the acceptance of divorce. As the most educated generation in history, it would contradict our own logic, our own studies, and our own college debt to think otherwise.
‘Gangs All Here
Mainstream media gets dogged by critics for getting swept up in feeding frenzies of gang journalism (aka, when the entire media rabidly reports the same story at once). Gang journalism is precisely why your Twitter feed blooms and retracts with the tides of similar, if not identical, stories reported by every news outlet you follow. In their defense, media outlets must swarm breaking news stories just to stay alive, it’s imperative and it’s cut throat, but what get’s left out? What’s the risk of group think across news outlets? What do we lose?
Pope Francis, during his time in the papacy, has condemned the death sentence, campaigned for wider acceptance of homosexuals in the church, and most recently, speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, endorsed evolution and the Big Bang theory. Suddenly, I’m wondering what happened to the churches’ vast contradictions with the mores of 2014?
“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,” Francis said. “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.”
“Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.”
Mainstream media reacted like wild dogs (and again, they have to) to cover what appeared as the next step in the pope’s earnest campaign to bring the church into the 21st century.
And at noon today, Time.com correspondent, Elizabeth Dias, published a calculated response to the slew of “OMG-Pope-Francis-Supports-Evolution” stories, featured by NPR, Salon, U.S. News and World Report, Huffington Post, Sydney Morning Herald, Telegraph, USA Today, and New York Post. She did note, however, that “Slate had done its homework.”
Titled, “Sorry, But Media Coverage of Pope Francis is Papal Bull,” she balked at the mainstream media coverage of the Vatican. With a tone of frustration, she detailed that as far back as 1950 “there was no conflict between evolution and Catholic faith,” and named every pope who had publicly supported evolution since. In essence, her article was asking mainstream media, “Why all the noise?”
From the article:
“‘God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life,’ he (Pope Francis) said. ‘Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve.’ Anyone who knows anything about Catholic history knows that a statement like this is nothing new.'”
If “nothing new” isn’t the cold truth about the exaggerated headlines exclaiming the pope’s speech, I don’t know what is. Dias’ article closed, “Moral of this story: Don’t believe most of what you read about the Vatican. Papal coverage has gone wild.”
The Goose Is Caught and Cooked
Then, when I thought my job was finished, I had an encounter with an article that silenced the rest of the “noise” completely. If reading Dias’ Time.com article had saved me and prevented me from going over the cliff, Jerry A. Coyne’s, a professor of Ecology and Evolution at The University of Chicago, was a bridge that led me safely across the canyon. His article, “Stop Celebrating the Pope’s Views on Evolution and the Big Bang. They Make No Sense.,” was a literary dagger to the heart of every pope-evolution article written this week.
After several news cycles of media hype trumpeted Francis’ apparently new found – but not – acceptance of evolution and the Big Bang theory, and a jagged Time.com article that popped the hype bubble and sent everyone back to the lib to do more homework, Coyne’s article ended the entire conversation like this:
“The Catholic Church is in a tough spot, straddling an equipoise between modern science and antiscientific medieval theology. When it jettisons the idea of the soul, of God’s intervention in the Big Bang and human evolution, and the notion of Adam and Eve as our historical ancestors, then Catholicism will be compatible with evolution. But then it would not be Catholicism.”
Wow. And just like that the goose chase was not only over, but caught and cooked; and not really knowing what to do, everyone went back to Elton John’s love of Pope Francis – who is still the man, just maybe not for the same reasons as a dozen headlines claimed about him and the church in their race to be number one.
— Sky News (@SkyNews) October 29, 2014