30 Oct 14

Despite What The Pope Says, You Can’t Believe In Evolution, Big Bang and God

Have your evolutionary cake and eat religious pre-destiny too? Why Pope Francis needs to get his foot off one boat (and out of his mouth).

Ever since Pope Francis spoke on matters bereft of soul, the world seems to have discovered the hidden scientist in him. The press has turned his robe into a lab coat and his staff into a pipette. The Vatican is now a lab and those who go down on their knees at the pulpit graduate students. Science has provided religion the respectability it has always wished for. Oil has finally mixed with water. Here he comes, the benefactor – swinging his thurible, telling tales of Big Bang and Evolution, smoking out the gullible from their editorial rooms to make them see the light.

So what exactly did Francis pontificate on? Well, take a look at what our headlines screamed:

Hindustan Times, October 29, 2014: Pope Francis backs evolution, Big Bang theory.

Firstpost, October 29, 2014: Big Bang Theory to Rolling Stones: Six reasons why Pope Francis is so cool.

But did the Pope really back Evolution and the Big Bang? He did if you believe in tooth fairies. This is what the good Pope actually 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. Likewise, evolution was all part of God’s plan. The development of each creature’s characteristics over millennia does not contrast with the notion of creation because evolution presupposes the creation of beings that evolve.

There we have it. Not only the Big Bang but also Evolution was part of God’s plan. And God said, Let there be no doubt. He, not Lemaître or Darwin thought of these ideas. He, not Hubble or Miller proved them experimentally. And if one believes in the Holy Bible, which one is sure the Pope does, it follows that after God ignited the spark that led to the Big Bang, He did the following:

“He created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness. And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And God said, let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. And God called the firmament Heaven. And God said, let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth; and the gathering together of the waters he called the Seas: and God saw that it was good.”


And once God was done with the Big Bang he turned next to Evolution. And “He said, let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so. And God said, let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creatures that have life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven. And God created great whales, and every living creature that moved, which the waters brought forth abundantly, after their kind, and every winged fowl after his kind. And God blessed them, saying: Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the waters in the seas, and let fowl multiply in the earth. And God said, let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind: and it was so. And God made the beast of the earth after his kind and cattle after their kind, and everything that crept upon the earth after his kind.”

The first stage of Evolution was now complete. There were animals of all shapes and sizes grazing the earth, jumping from one tree to the next. But something was not right. One pair was missing.

“And God knew it, and He said, let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that crept upon the earth. And God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. And the rib, which God had taken from man, made He a woman, and brought her unto the man. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.”

Finer prose has never been written. Distilled over generations, it is time-tested and it makes one’s hair stand on end. Not one word is out of place. And precisely because of this one must then ask: When man and his wife, both of them naked, were not ashamed, why should those who believe in God be? Utter such magic, write such magic, believe in such magic!

Religion is a beautiful concept, even an atheist would admit to that. It has searing prose, thrilling stories, it has good conquering evil, it has flying angels and plummeting demons, the body intertwined with its soul, it has everything a scared man could wish for to bring him comfort. Religion is the naked truth of our society. And when almost all of humanity believes in it, there can be no discussion – one has to accept that religion is not going to go away soon. Truth be told, the world would probably be a poorer place without it.

But should religion be mixed with science? Can an emulsion – of oil and water – be sustained, before the bubbles burst? Can one really back Big Bang and Evolution if one believes in those rousing words above? The short answer is no, one cannot. Religion and science are not moulded from the same clay. Their beauty must be enjoyed separately. One cannot force itself upon the other. They are brothers born of different mothers.

Converts must seek the truth of their own volition.

What our Prime Minister did – talk of prehistoric molecular genetics and head transplantations and immaculate conceptions – was bad enough. We can be proud of our ancient knowledge – in mathematics, astronomy, in Ayurveda – without resorting to baloney. We can be proud of the Bhagvad Gita without wanting to derive a childish thrill from the observation that the maker of the atomic bomb – someone who wanted to bomb Tokyo and not Hiroshima to achieve maximum kill – saw the mushroom and uttered the immortal quote “Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds!” Batraisms must be lampooned, and they have been.

But what our Pope did was worse. Not only did he slap Hubble, he also thumped Darwin on his head. And yet our media thinks the Pope is oh-so-cool. By saying what the Pope has on Big Bang and Evolution, the Vatican has spat at Galileo. Again. And it will continue to do so unless those whose job it is to question everyone and everything, stop looking for answers in religion. The brutal fact is that if Dinanath Batra converted to Christianity, you wouldn’t know the difference. This shoulder-hoisting of the Pope can either be out of ignorance or a bizarre paid-for image makeover. One can give the benefit of the doubt to our media and say ignorance. But ignorance cannot be an excuse forever. Christopher Hitchens, you are being missed.

One can either believe in the Big Bang and Evolution, or one can believe in God. There is more than enough space on this earth for both sets of believers to co-exist peacefully. What one cannot do is what the Pope has done, to believe in the Big Bang and Evolution, and at the same time believe that God is responsible for both.

Sorry. One cannot be a little bit pregnant.


This article first appeared in newslaundry on Oct. 30, 2014.

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