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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fantastic trip--Some thoughts on science and religion

Check out this SlideShare Presentation:

Over the summer,while serving the parishes in northern Wisconsin, I entered into several conversations about the relationship between science and religion. I first viewed the slide presentation that you hopefully just watched a year ago. It raises some interesting questions. For me it challenged me to look at the universe as we understand it today and again affirm that there is a God who must be behind all of this and who sustains it continually. There are those who see this and say there is no God. I don't think that one can prove anything either way. Faith is a stance one takes when presented with such wonder. It was also apparent to me that the God who created and continues to create all of this is not somebody that I can easily figure out.
One challenge that our new understanding and awareness of the universe presents to us is that fact that traditional God-talk and religious imagery still speaks of a God in "heaven above" who pulls the strings and controls the life of us "here on earth below.". In light of our present awareness of the universe I prefer to speak of the God who is over all and through all and in all. I believe that in the not too distant future our Church leaders and our theologians will be challenged to walk the fine line between preserving traditional teaching about God, the Trinity and Jesus and expressing that teaching in a new way, with an imagery that fits our present understanding. That having been said it is good to keep in mind that whatever we say about God will always be inadequate.
One final thought--I believe that two principles should guide us in interfacing science and religion. Number one is that insofar as science explains to us what the Creator has given us we must accept that, even if it doesn't jive with images in the Bible. As Catholics we learned a big and embarassing lesson from Galileo in that regard and we now understand that the Bible does not teach science, or necessarily history. It teaches us about our relationship with God and one another. As one of my seminary Scripture profs once said while holding up a Bible, "Every last word of this is true, but not all of it happened." Where religion can challenge science is in the area of ethics, challenging the notion that just because we can do something it must be done. Issues like building nuclear weapons, cloning, genetic engineering, etc are some of the areas where science needs to be challenged. As long as science and religion both honestly seek the truth we will do just fine.

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