Creation Museum CEO and President Ken Ham recently denounced Pope Francis' comments earlier this week that evolution is "not inconsistent with God," saying the pontiff has "compromised biblical authority in favor of man's ideas in the area of origins."
"Pope Francis is not the first religious leader who has endorsed evolution and the big bang, but he is certainly one of the most influential," Ham wrote on his Answers in Genesis blog.
Ham's comments were made in response to the Pope's assertions at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Monday that "Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation."
"The scientist," he continued, "must [nevertheless] be moved by a trust in the idea that nature hides, within her evolutionary mechanisms, potentialities that it is the task of intellect and freedom to discover and actuate, in order to achieve the [kind of] development that is in the design of the Creator."
Francis also commented that the idea of evolution does not necessarily contradict God. He explained: "when we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so ... God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life. ... Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."
Although Ham agreed that God is not a "magician," he warned that Francis has accepted "man's word above God's Word" by supporting a view that does not align with a literal interpretation of Genesis.
However, Time Magazine correspondent Elizabeth Dias said the pope's statements are "nothing new," as Catholics have traditionally had no theological issues with evolutionary theory.
"Anyone who knows anything about Catholic history knows that a statement like this is nothing new. Pope Pius XII wrote an encyclical 'Humani Generis' in 1950 affirming that there was no conflict between evolution and Catholic faith," she wrote. "Pope John Paul II reaffirmed that, stressing that evolution was more than a hypothesis, in 1996. Pope Benedict XVI hosted a conference on the nuances of creation and evolution in 2006."
According to a Gallup poll from June, Christians and Americans remain divided on the issue of evolution vs. creation. About 42 percent of Americans believe that God created humans in their present form 10,000 years ago, and another 31 percent of responders to the survey said that they believe God guided evolution. Only 19 percent said they believed that God had "no part" in the process of the world's formation.