July 18, 2021
Sixteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Faith & Science
There is a popular conception that faith and science are in a state of unresolvable conflict. This perception is absolutely false. It originated in a book written in 1874, and despite being thoroughly discredited by scholars, it manages to hang on in pop culture like a bad tooth.
Here is the truth: not only are Christianity and science compatible, science is, in a very real way, the beloved child of the Roman Catholic Church. The belief that the universe was created by a personal God directly led to the belief that the universe was ordered, and that its workings could be understood by man, created in the image and likeness of God. The logical underpinnings of the Catholic faith thereby became the foundation for “natural philosophy”, which has grown into what we today call science.
Consider for a moment these scientific disciplines: modern astrophysics; acoustics; solar science; modern optics; hydraulics; infinitesimal calculus; and genetics. Each of these disciplines was founded by, not just Catholics, but Catholic priests. The current theory that describes the origin of the universe, the Big Bang Theory, was developed and proposed by Father Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian Catholic priest and professor of physics. Today, the Society of Catholic Scientists, which “adheres to the faith of the Catholic Church and will always operate with due regard to her magisterium”, continues to grow and demonstrate the way that faith and science work together in our understanding of the universe and our place in it. And this is just a tiny fragment of the scientific contributions that the Church and its members have made and continue to make. Conflict? Nope.
The Catholic Church has been the single greatest supporter of science in the history of the world. While it has made serious mistakes, the most famous being its treatment of Galileo, it continues to encourage scientific study to better understand God’s creation.
Our church understands that one who pursues truth in any form is pursuing Christ (“the way, the truth, and the life”). Science strives to understand the physical world and has done remarkable work for the betterment of man. But science cannot study those things that do not answer to physical laws; it simply does not have the tools to do so. That is the domain of faith. Science answers the “how”, while faith answers the “why”.
– Bill Merlock