Recently Pope Francis made a statement about the Big Bang theory (part of which is inaccurate as will be explained below) that has sent many people into a tizzy over what the Church teaches or does not teach regarding creation. Moreover, some misguided Catholics have claimed that the Church should not make any pronouncements about anything except “faith and morals.” ‘Know your place, Church!’
Of course, this kind of advice regarding what the Church should do is preposterous because the Church has the overall mission of proclaiming the truth of creation and the meaning of life, and so it can and does make wise use of science as a gift of God when making proclamations that have a relationship to things scientific. Moreover, the Church promotes science and scientific discoveries despite what many opposed to the Church claim, especially when they bring up their favorite but falsely reported stories of what actually happened in the cases of Galileo and Bruno. Pretending to be opponents of all mythology, they stubbornly cling to their faith in the exaggerated reports concerning Galileo and Bruno, and they use the mythology as “proof” of their remarkably unlearned claim that the Church opposes science. Too bad they don’t have such faith in reality.
The Reality of the Big Bang
Speaking of reality, the Big Bang is simply the event that began the expansion of the galaxies. It is not the first moment of creation, and creation is rightly understood as creatio ex nihilo (creation out of nothing). Physics/cosmology is limited to measuring/observing physical objects. It cannot measure or observe anything that lacks physical being like the nihilo, and the bizarre attempt to declare nothing to actually be something completely misses the point of what nothing means and represents: NO PHYSICAL or MATERIAL THING. Scientists with an atheistic attitude like physicists S. Hawking and L. Krauss and biologist R. Dawkins like to play this word game of declaring nothing to actually be something (a kind of vacuum the physicists say, and Dawkins drinks their Kool-aid), and they attract many lapdog followers who do not bother to seriously investigate what these fellows and their minions are really claiming, which is irrational nonsense. Proudly declaring nothing to actually be something is yet another failed attempt to make metaphysical claims based solely on physics. Those like Hawking, Krauss, and Dawkins are way out of their league here, but their failure to recognize the limits of science blinds them to their own irrationality in making mythological claims wrapped up in pseudo-scientific garb to impress themselves and like-minded fellow travelers who practice the religion of scientism.
Now, the discovery of the Cosmic Background Radiation in the early 1960s supports the Big Bang Theory, so it is prudent and wise to accept the likelihood that such an event occurred. What isn’t wise is declaring the event to be the moment of creation that many people do indeed claim for the big bang, and they also wrongly cite Fr. Georges LeMaître (the “father” of the big bang) in this regard. However, Fr. LeMaître never made such a claim, and he also cautioned others to not make that assumption. Alas, Pope Pius XII and now it seems Pope Francis as well did not heed LeMaître’s warning in claiming a quality or aspect of the Big Bang that it does not possess.
Prudence is Always Wise
What is, of course, always necessary is to exercise cautious prudence when making claims that involve unsettled science, but as promoters of the truth wherever it is found, it would be ridiculous to follow a recommendation to stay completely silent on such things, especially since that would help elevate the secular world’s take on these matters that pertain to ultimate questions of existence. In fact, it is the secular world that should stop claiming any alleged scientific discovery or “proof” of “when it all began.” It is simply beyond the province of science forever. Creatio ex nihilo can never be measured or observed. People of faith also need to recognize this reality instead of wrongly using and/or misinterpreting the work of Fr. LeMaître and others to pin false hopes on an impossible claim that “science proves a first moment of creation.”