Science and Christianity

It is my understanding that the Catholic Church affirms that the findings of science are true. I do see some atheists making different claims.

Anyone have suggestions of the best things I can read to inform me best about the Catholic position on science?

Thank you very much!

As far as stuff on the web, there is a site called strangenotions.com/ that addresses the relationship, between faith, reason, and science!

Off my head…

ewtnnews.com/catholic-news/US.php?id=1605f

I think you need to be more specific. The usual topic of contention is evolution.

Peace,
Ed

I don’t know what the “official” Catholic position is or if there is such a thing but I would say that science is the study of God’s creation.

Science is the study of the material world.

Religion is the belief in a spiritual world.

One cannot say anything about the other. The point at which both come into conflict is when morality is involved, topics that involve stem cell research, contraception, homosexual parenting, body modifications, sex reassignment surgery, etc etc.

The other issue is that we are told that science cannot study God or the supernatural, which is why knowledge given by God as through Divine Revelation in the Bible, sometimes needs to be added to what science can tell us. The Church does have a Pontifical Academy of Sciences to stay current on science.

Peace,
Ed

That’s kind of a strange statement, isn’t it? Scientific opinion sometimes “finds” one thing to be true, and then finds it to be false.

To affirm something is to agree that it’s true. Why would the Church affirm a specific finding, if it may turn out that that finding is not true? The Church would be overstepping its role.

The Church does teach that ethical scientific research is a good thing. It is good to try to learn the nature of creation. The Church has long supported scientific research, and many important scientists have been priests or religious brothers. A few notable scientist priests include Copernicus (who formulated the heliocentric model of the solar system), Mendel (who discovered basic genetics) and Lemaitre (who postulated the Big Bang theory, based on the red shift).

The Church does, when appropriate, address scientific matters while including Divine Revelation, which science cannot study. Science has boundaries. The Church, when appropriate, can comment on science that conflicts with Divine Revelation. It does not have a purely ethical/religious boundary, since, in some cases, science may present information that requires, from the Church’s point of view, some correction or addition.

Peace,
Ed

There’s numerous videos on You Tube through EWTN/Fr Pacwa and guests on Faith and Reason.

youtube.com/watch?v=m6DYJt-NI1A

Bl John Paul IIs encyclical

ewtn.com/library/encyc/jp2fides.htm

Thank you for the links. I’m finding some of them of a lot of interest.

Regarding science, I was most specifically thinking about evolution. I will be honest, I accept that life changed and advanced over time, but I do not believe it was from an essentially mechanistic, blind, uncreative process. That simply does not make sense to me. When I look at the world of life, I see a hand of divine creativity influencing the process of evolution.

I also agree that the Big Bang implies a creator.

The other area, where I think most scientists have gone far astray is in the belief that the human mind is entirely a product of the brain. That is basically an assumption, and there is a lot of good evidence that it is incorrect.

Do Catholics have any particular beliefs about those topics?
Thank you!

From Communion and Stewardship.

“69. The current scientific debate about the mechanisms at work in evolution requires theological comment insofar as it sometimes implies a misunderstanding of the nature of divine causality. Many neo-Darwinian scientists, as well as some of their critics, have concluded that, if evolution is a radically contingent materialistic process driven by natural selection and random genetic variation, then there can be no place in it for divine providential causality. A growing body of scientific critics of neo-Darwinism point to evidence of design (e.g., biological structures that exhibit specified complexity) that, in their view, cannot be explained in terms of a purely contingent process and that neo-Darwinians have ignored or misinterpreted. The nub of this currently lively disagreement involves scientific observation and generalization concerning whether the available data support inferences of design or chance, and cannot be settled by theology. But it is important to note that, according to the Catholic understanding of divine causality, true contingency in the created order is not incompatible with a purposeful divine providence. Divine causality and created causality radically differ in kind and not only in degree. Thus, even the outcome of a truly contingent natural process can nonetheless fall within God’s providential plan for creation. According to St. Thomas Aquinas: “The effect of divine providence is not only that things should happen somehow, but that they should happen either by necessity or by contingency. Therefore, whatsoever divine providence ordains to happen infallibly and of necessity happens infallibly and of necessity; and that happens from contingency, which the divine providence conceives to happen from contingency” (Summa theologiae, I, 22,4 ad 1). In the Catholic perspective, neo-Darwinians who adduce random genetic variation and natural selection as evidence that the process of evolution is absolutely unguided are straying beyond what can be demonstrated by science. Divine causality can be active in a process that is both contingent and guided. Any evolutionary mechanism that is contingent can only be contingent because God made it so. An unguided evolutionary process – one that falls outside the bounds of divine providence – simply cannot exist because “the causality of God, Who is the first agent, extends to all being, not only as to constituent principles of species, but also as to the individualizing principles…It necessarily follows that all things, inasmuch as they participate in existence, must likewise be subject to divine providence” (Summa theologiae I, 22, 2).”

Peace,
Ed

I’m not sure whether you’re talking about official Catholic beliefs on these particular topics, or unofficial beliefs of individual Catholics that seem to be consistent with our Catholic faith. I’ll give both perspectives where I can.

Evolution:
Official Catholic position, as articulated by Catholic Answers: Evolution
My beliefs: I hold to theistic evolution - the idea that certain biological forces play into the development of new species and the changing gene pools in current species, but that God’s hand is in the process in some way (first and perhaps foremost, being the First Cause). This sounds pretty much the same as what the OP states in his post regarding evolution.

On a small side note, sometimes I wonder how neo-Darwinists explain human exceptionalism - that humans are uniquely by far and away much more

Big Bang:
A Catholic priest named Fr. George Lemaître was one of the pioneers of this theory, and is now often called the Father of the Big Bang Theory. He served in the Pontifical Academy of Sciences for years, and was even the president for the last five years or so of his life. I too agree that the Big Bang (as I understand it as someone with basically no formal education on the subject) leaves the door more than open to a god.

The Human Mind:
I’m with you here as well. I’m about to graduate from dental school, so I’ve had my fair share of studying the human body. When it comes down to it, the nervous system is, biologically speaking, a system that can only react one way to a given set of stimuli. It’s basically like an incredible computer - it leaves no room for free will from a purely biological standpoint. This does not and cannot explain the human experience of free will. Some atheist scientists claim that the perception of free will is only a remarkable misperception of reality, but that seems to be quite a stretch, and more of just a way to make their worldview fit with their human experience of free will.

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