Oy, more people are drooling over the Pope again over nothing. So, the news this time is that the Pope has said Christians should believe in evolution and the big bang.
First, this isn't really news. This has been the Catholic position for some time. The big bang idea was originally proposed by Georges Lemaître, who, besides being a physicist, was also a Catholic priest. So I think the Catholic Church has been behind this idea from near its inception. I didn't know when, exactly, the church got on board with evolution, but I was able to find a Wikipedia article on it. It looks like the church has generally been OK with evolution since 1950.
But this leads to a very important point: What the Catholic church is OK with isn't exactly evolution. Per the Wikipedia article: "Catholicism holds that God initiated and continued the process of his evolutionary creation, that Adam and Eve were real people ...and affirms that all humans, whether specially created or evolved, have and have always had specially created souls for each individual." The actual theory of evolution, however, does not have Adam and Eve as real people.
Similarly, look at what the Pope actually had to say about evolution: "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." Whatever he's talking about here, this is not evolution. This actually sounds a lot like what creationists promote. I've written about it in regards to the book, I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. It's this idea that "micro"evolution is real, but "macro"evolution is not. Typically, by this they mean to say, in short, changes can occur within a species (a common example are all the different breeds of dogs), but one species cannot become a new species. This sounds to be what the Pope is promoting, though he is awfully vague about it. (As the Wikipedia article indicates, it would seem the Catholic Church has been vague about it ever since 1950.)
I am completely unimpressed. This just looks like marketing to me because, first and foremost, when I look at the actual product being sold, it's not what was being advertised. Two, there is a market to be had by appealing to science. When you look at other religions, a lot of them tend to be blatantly anti-science. So who's to cater to the pro-science crowd? Enter the Catholic Church!!! Three, look at all the people who get all excited about this. Certainly the Catholic Church realizes that people get excited about such announcements. So why not keep doing it?
The last thing I have to cover is regarding the title of this post. I do get really irritated when people try to claim that the Pope is progressive. I think a lot of people are making errors in their judgement. Primarily, I think people are comparing him to other religious leaders. Considering how regressive a lot of other religious leaders are, this is not a good basis for comparison. It's setting a lower standard. So, sure, on that lower standard, you could call the Pope progressive. But how about if we try to compare him against the larger population? Take, for example, the way people get excited when he says something positive about the LGBT community. Well, he's still opposed to gays getting married to each other. Compare that then to the USA population where now the majority is in favor of such unions. He's on the wrong side of this issue yet. How is that progressive??? Worse, as I often point out, he is part of an organization that claims to get moral authority straight from a god. The Catholic Church should be set to a higher standard. Instead, they get praised for being slightly worse than average. We really need to stop it with this crap. The Pope is not anywhere near being progressive. Stop pretending otherwise.