This is the transcript of the talk I held this morning at the „International Congress on Science and Religion: a 21st Century Debate“ in the Sigmund Freud University here in Vienna.
Let’s say this right at the beginning. The dialogue between religion and science is, from a Christian perspective, EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. The object of this talk is to show why and how this is so. As a priest, I am frequently confronted with this topic. Yet I find that talk of the relationship faith-science is really talk on the relationship between faith and reason. To say it up front: in a Christian world view, faith and reason need go hand in hand. To use an image of John Paul II.: they are as two wings of an airplane…cut one off, you’ve got a problem.
Historically, from a Christian perspective, the ushering in of the enlightenment came with the story of the three kings coming to see the baby in Bethlehem. Why? Because all of a sudden, religion was saying, it’s not the stars and some unknown hidden powers that influence our destiny, but it is rather the other way around… a rationality – the „Logos“, influences the stars.
In this sense, Robert Barron, Bishop Elect of Los Angeles, would say: „To hold that the world is created is to accept, simultaneously, the two assumptions required for science, namely, that the universe is not divine and that it is marked, through and through, by intelligibility. If the world or nature is considered divine (as it is in many philosophies and mysticisms), then one would never allow oneself to analyze it, dissect it, or perform experiments upon it. But a created world, by definition, is not divine. It is other than God, and in that very otherness, scientists find their freedom to act. At the same time, if the world is unintelligible, no science would get off the ground, since all science is based upon the presumption that nature can be known, that it has a form. But the world, precisely as created by a divine intelligence, is thoroughly intelligible, and hence scientists have the confidence to seek, explore, and experiment.“ Yes, there w