Respect for the mind

December 9, 2010

Eye on Faith and Science

“Our Church has a remarkable reverence for the human intellect. Throughout our history, we have struggled to understand and to teach. We believe in science and faith, not science versus faith. Our commitment to education at all levels has contributed immensely to the progress of the human race from monastic institutions begun in earlier centuries to Third World elementary schools today.”

This quote begins a chapter titled “Respect for the Mind” in Father John Forliti’s new book, “Ten Anchors.” A retired pastor of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis who now works as a high school chaplain, Father Forliti sets out in the book to highlight 10 dimensions of Catholic life to help young adults stay anchored to their faith.

In this particular chapter, I appreciate the way Father Forliti views faith and science as partners in helping us understand the nature of life and the universe around us. He doesn’t gloss over some of the historical tensions that have existed between science and religion — he acknowledges, for example, the conflict between Galileo and the church. But he also is clear that while some questions are better answered by science, others — like why the world was created — are ultimately “faith questions.”

I also appreciated his reference to Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church’s stance on evolution as something that isn’t necessarily in conflict with our faith.

Father Forliti goes on to demonstrate the church’s commitment to both faith and reason by listing a number of notable Catholic scientists from the past, including Father Georges LeMaitre, a physicist and astronomer who proposed a theory about the beginning of the universe that we now know as the Big Bang.

The chapter is short, but it’s a wonderful addition among the book’s other sections. It also helps reinforce for young and old alike that Catholicism has a deep, long-standing respect for education and scientific inquiry.

You can read a review of the entire book on The Catholic Spirit’s BobZ Book Reviews blog.

About Joe Towalski

Editor of The Catholic Spirit, husband, dad, baseball fan(atic), astronomy buff. Follow me on Twitter @towalskij

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