the Beacon Journal editorial board

Pope Francis did not break new ground in an address at the Vatican this week. The Catholic Church long has made room for evolutionary science and the role of God as divine creator. He did revisit the matter in a refreshing and timely way, especially in view of misguided efforts in Ohio and elsewhere to bring creationism, or intelligent design, into the science classroom, where it does not belong.

“Evolution of nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation,” he told the pontifical academy of sciences, “because evolution presupposes the creation of beings which evolve.”

Francis cautioned against misinterpreting the story of Genesis, or “the risk of imagining that God was a magician, with a magic wand which is able to do everything.” That is not so, he stressed, adding that God “created beings and let them develop according to internal laws which He gave every one, so that they would develop, so they would reach maturity.”

Many politicians, mostly the Republican variety, like to claim that creationism deserves a hearing as an alternative to evolution. The choice is false, as Francis indicates. One belongs in the realm of faith, or belief, the other in the world of science, its method driven by tested and concrete evidence. “The big bang … does not contradict the divine act of creation,” the pope reminded. “Rather, it requires it.”