Pope Francis is expressing his esteem for science, but also coming down hard against the “new atheists” such as Richard Dawkins who deny the existence of anything beyond the material world. Francis adds that “the Creator is infinitely greater than our knowledge.”
In an interview published Friday from Paris Match, the Pope said that his deepest certainties lie beyond what science can tell us.
“What I am certain of is that the universe, and the world in which we live, is not the result of chance or chaos, but a divine intelligence, the love of a God who loves us, created us, willed us to be and never leaves us alone.”
The Pope had been asked what he thought of NASA’s announcement last July of the discovery of a planet whose size is similar to that of the earth, Kepler 452 B. The interviewer, Caroline Pigozzi, asked Francis whether he believes there is intelligent life on other planets. The Pope replied that as far as he knew science has found no trace of other intelligent beings in the universe, though he didn’t close the door to the possibility. After all, “we didn’t know America existed until it was discovered,” he said.
“I think,” he said, “that we should listen to what scientists tell us, while always aware that the Creator is infinitely greater than our knowledge.”
Besides the fact that the universe is not the result of chance, Francis added another certainty of his.
“What I am certain of is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God became man, died on the cross to save us humans from sin, and rose again conquering death,” he said.
The Pope also clarified his thoughts on capitalism, realizing that his thoughts on the economy are often misrepresented.
Asked whether capitalism and profit are evil, Francis replied that to the contrary, they are not evil as long “they are not made into idols.” They are tools, Francis said, and should be seen as tools, as means to an end. If money and profit become an object of worship, however, “our societies are destined for ruin.”
An “unbridled ambition of money,” where the common good and the dignity of human beings are trampled upon, is what must be avoided, Francis said. “Human beings and the whole of creation should not be at the service of money: the consequences of this are evident for all,” he said.
The Pope’s nuanced view of capitalism, contrary to the caricature often applied to him, is consistent with the words he spoke to the U.S. Congress during his recent visit to America, where he praised American capitalism and spoke of the ability of the free market to lift people out of poverty.
In the fight against poverty, Francis said, it “goes without saying that part of this great effort is the creation and distribution of wealth. The right use of natural resources, the proper application of technology and the harnessing of the spirit of enterprise are essential elements of an economy which seeks to be modern, inclusive and sustainable.”
“Business is a noble vocation,” the Pope continued, “directed to producing wealth and improving the world. It can be a fruitful source of prosperity for the area in which it operates, especially if it sees the creation of jobs as an essential part of its service to the common good.”
Follow Thomas D. Williams on Twitter @tdwilliamsrome