Zenit reports that Pope Benedict spoke yesterday on the mercy of God and how it is evident in creation:
The first visible sign of this divine charity—says the Psalmist—is to be sought in creation. Then history enters. The gaze, full of admiration and wonder, pauses first of all on creation: the heavens, the earth, the waters, the sun, the moon and the stars.
Even before discovering the God who reveals himself in the history of a people, there is a cosmic revelation, open to all, offered to the whole of humanity by the only Creator, "God of gods" and "Lord of lords" (cf. verses 2-3).
He concluded his official remarks by referencing St. Basil's commentary on the opening of Genesis:
"'In the beginning God created heaven and earth.' My word yields, overcome by the wonder of this thought" [Ref].
In fact, although some, "deceived by the atheism they bear within them, imagined the universe deprived of a guide and order, at the mercy of chance," the sacred writer instead "has immediately enlightened our mind with the name of God at the beginning of the narrative, saying: 'In the beginning God created.' And what beauty this order has!" [Ref].
"Therefore, if the world had a beginning and was created, you have to seek the one who initiated it and who is its Creator ... Moses has prepared you with his teaching, imprinting on our souls as a seal or phylactery the most holy name of God, when he says: 'In the beginning God created.' The blessed nature, goodness free from envy, he who is the object of love on the part of all reasoning beings, the beauty greater than any that can be desired, the beginning of beings, the source of life, the light of understanding, the inaccessible wisdom, in a word, He 'in the beginning created heaven and earth'" [Ref].
At the end of the audience, the Holy Father added extemporaneously:
I believe the words of this fourth-century Father are of amazing timeliness, when he says some, "deceived by the atheism they bear within them, imagined the universe deprived of a guide and order, at the mercy of chance." How many are these "some" today?
Deceived by atheism, they believe and try to demonstrate that it is scientific to think that everything lacks a guide and order, as if they were at the mercy of chance. The Lord, with sacred Scripture, awakens the drowsy reason and says to us: In the beginning is the creative Word. In the beginning the creative Word—this Word that has created everything, which has created this intelligent plan, the cosmos—is also Love.
Let us allow ourselves to be awakened by this Word of God. Let us pray that he clear our minds so that we will be able to perceive the message of creation, inscribed also in our hearts: The beginning of everything is creative Wisdom and this Wisdom is love and goodness: "Eternal is his mercy."
The Popes remarks call for an underscoring of the point I've been making here recently: atheism derives no support from Darwinism, once one understands the scientific claims of Darwinism correctly. The Pope's remarks are not a rejection of science, but of the unwarranted extrapolation of science to say something beyond its authority.
Only by misconceiving evolutionary theory as a complete causal explanation of the origin of species can it be said to support atheism... or have anything at all to say on the subject. The theory's creative source of genetic novelty, "random mutations," makes no claim about the specific cause of those mutations (what precipitates the laws of physics to act just when and how they do) and, indeed, no one expects a scientific theory to specify causality so finely. This dearth of specificity leaves a wide berth for the workings of Providence or whatever sort of cause (space aliens?) one might want to insert into the gap. Moreover it is characteristic of science to mistake the workings of intelligence for chance.
So in summary, the belief that Darwinism has any implications one way or the other (for or against atheism) is a grievous (but all too common) misunderstanding of evolutionary theory and the role of chance in science.
The well intentioned folks who oppose the teaching of Darwin in schools have been deceived into thinking the theory atheistic. The irony is that in their efforts they have unwittingly imbibed the misconception from which so many atheists suffer. The miseducated "brights" who sport Darwin amphibians on their cars have successfully deceived them into drinking from the same punch bowl. Tragic.