Creationists aren't too thrilled to learn of Pope Francis' recent support for evolution and have declared his strong endorsement for the Darwinian explanation for the existence of life a blatant deviation from biblical teachings.
Last week, the 77-year-old head of the Catholic church expressed his endorsement for the theory of evolution while speaking at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He also stated support for the Big Bang theory as the explanation for the origin of the universe, adding that both the Darwinian evolution and the Big Bang do not conflict with the idea of God as the creator of life and of the universe.
Pope Francis further criticized the common imagination of God as a "magician" that can spin the cosmos at the swish of a magic wand.
"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 fulfillment."
Creationists like Ken Ham, a prominent Australian minister and head of creationism non-profit Answers in Genesis, did not receive Pope Francis' latest pro-science sentiments positively. The latter's statements about evolution -- a scientific fact that has attracted negative reactions from faith-lead groups -- particularly hit a nerve among the creationists, many of whom declare the literal interpretation of the Genesis story of creation to be true.
Writing for the Answers in Genesis official blog, creationist Ken Ham criticized the Pope's endorsement of the theory of evolution, saying that the religious leader is guilty of "putting man's word over God's word." Ham was also critical of Pope Francis' "God is not a magician" statements.
"In this instance, Pope Francis, like so many other religious leaders, is putting man's word above God's Word. And not only that, he's also going so far as to say that only a magician with "a magic wand" could create the way that God said He created in Genesis! Frankly, this shows a lack of understanding of who Scripture claims God is—the all-powerful Creator who is capable of doing what is impossible to man. Sadly, this view of God is rapidly spreading even throughout the Protestant church."
Despite Ham's scathing comments against Pope Francis' recent declarations of support for evolution, the latter remains to be popular and continues to receive massive support from both the moderately religious and the adamantly unbelieving. In a shocking declaration last year, the Pope told a group of mass-attenders that atheists who do good are "redeemed."
The evidence for the theory of evolution remains strong, despite political opposition from those who refuse to acknowledge this basic scientific fact. However, many creationists have been able to reconcile their personal faith with evolution, subscribing to the so-called evolutionary creationism -- the idea that God was a primary motivator behind the long and gradual process of inherited changes over populations.
[Image from Catholic Church England and Wales/Flickr]