Recently, Pope Francis issued a statement which not only accepted science’s “Big Bang” theory on the origin of the universe but embraced Darwin’s theory of evolution as well. He concluded that neither of these suppositions contradicted the idea of divine intervention. On the contrary, God’s will was required. (Click here) ”
Whether or not science will welcome or ignore the Pope’s overture of reconciliation is yet to be seen, but history shows that the relationship between the two, science and religion, has at times been an uneasy one. Every school child knows of the work of Nicholas Copernicus which said the sun and not the earth was the center of the solar system, and that of Galileo Galilei, nearly a century later, agreed. Both men printed books that were banned by the Church, though Copernicus escaped persecution because he died soon after publishing. Galileo Galilei wasn’t so lucky. He was forced to recant his writings before the Inquisition. (Click here).
As with the theories of these two scientists, eventually the Church has had to make peace with ideas that become commonly held by thinkers and scientist around the globe. Pope Francis’ nod to current scientific canon about life’s origins and development is another adjustment. Dogma that becomes awkwardly irrelevant is eventually relegated to the realm of allegory and fable. Designating these old notions as such doesn’t render them meaningless, however. They reflect is our historical desire to learn more of our existence, the same impetus that sparks scientific investigation.
I welcome Pope Francis’ overture to science and I agree with him that no inherent war lies between these two disciplines. Science asks questions about how the world works. Religion, through spiritual exploration, seeks to understand why.