I am grateful to Joel Watts for pointing out the original Italian text of something that the Pope recently said, which had puzzled me in the English translations I had encountered:
Dio non è un demiurgo o un mago, ma il Creatore che dà l’essere a tutti gli enti. L’inizio del mondo non è opera del caos che deve a un altro la sua origine, ma deriva direttamente da un Principio supremo che crea per amore. Il Big-Bang, che oggi si pone all’origine del mondo, non contraddice l’intervento creatore divino ma lo esige.
Here is a translation:
God is not a demiurge or magician, but the Creator who gives existence to all entities. The beginning of the world is not the work of chaos which owes its origin to another, but rather it derives directly from a supreme Principle which creates out of love. The Big Bang, which today is posited as the origin of the world, does not contradict the creative divine intervention, but rather requires it.
And so the Pope is clearly thinking of the God depicted by various anti-science creationists, including the Intelligent Design folks as well as young-earth creationists. That God is either a tinkerer who works rather like a human engineer with evidence of trial, error, and shortcomings, or a malevolent deceiver who makes the world look as though it were something it isn’t.Of course, it should also be pointed out that evolution acts in many ways rather like the deity these creationists posit, or like a Gnostic Demiurge, inasmuch as it tinkers with that which already exists, at a distance from the supreme origin of the cosmos. And Genesis does depict creation out of chaos.
Be that as it may, Pope Francis, in re-articulating the longstanding stance not just of the Catholic church but of most Christians, is leading the way in the only viable direction for contemporary Christianity: to embrace science and make it part of our worldview, rather than fighting in vain to deny it in a manner that misrepresents both the scientific and religious data.