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Faith and Science, Essay Example

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Essay

The principles offered by Martin Albl in section 4.10 demonstrate that the relationship between scientists and theologians does not have to be one of conflict and opposition. Instead, the work of scientists has the ability to enlighten and enlarge the work of theologians, and vice versa.  As such, I found Principles Three and Four to be incredibly relevant given what seems to be a modern attraction in creating divisiveness between these two important segments of society. Albl writes that “theological truth and scientific truth can never contradict one another” (Albl 95) and the emphasis here should be on the word truth.

The quest for knowledge is an endeavour of both scientists and theologians, but they often appear at cross purposes.  This doesn’t need to be the case, as Albl points out in Principle Three when he writes that any contradiction found between scientific truth and theological truth is due to scientists and theologians overstepping the bounds of their own competence to engage in either faulty hermeneutics or biblical presuppositions.  Which is to say that human error is to blame for a lack of truth, rather than any failings on the part of the natural or spiritual world.  This is an issue that Pope John Paul II addressed in 1979 when he commented on the Galileo Affair, noting that “scripture is not competent to make judgements on the nature of the physical universe.  Such judgements should be left to the experimental sciences and to philosophy, both of which are competent within their own realms” (Albl 79).  John Paul’s wisdom in commenting on Galileo lies in the humility he expresses by acknowledging the limitations of both science and theology. However, although these two fields may exist in different realms with different sets of beliefs and worldviews, they need not be mutually exclusive, either.

Albl underscores this in Principle Four when he stresses that “theologians must remain current with scientific thought and be willing to adjust their teaching in light of scientifically provable information” (Albl 95).  The problem in the Galileo affair was that theologians of the time were unwilling to move forward and accept that science and religion can share the common desire to reveal the truth of human nature and human experience.  The willingness of modern theologians to work with scientific evidence demonstrates a refreshing openness to truth in all forms and can only help to strengthen the faith of all Catholics.

The concept of NOMA in which “God creates the world but then allows the world to unfold according to natural laws, including the laws of evolution” (Albl 93) would likely be rejected by Teilhard. The idea of God as a Deistic force who abandons his creations is at odds with Teilhard’s belief in a compassionate force which guides all people.  Although he believed that the universe can be understood through our evolutionary processes, and used his own experiences as a paleontologist to further his personal spiritual journey, the NOMA notion that religion and science are separate and distinct would be at odds with his point of view.  Teilhard believed that the physical world was inseparable from the spiritual world and that evolution allows human beings to understand their past and future and thus build a stronger relationship with God.

Works Cited

Albl, Martin C. Reason, Faith, and Tradition: Explorations in Catholic Theology. Winona, MN: Saint Mary’s Press, 2009.

Imperato, Robert. Christian Footings. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2000.

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