Thursday, April 26, 2012
Science and Creation
It's no secret that there are cultural conflicts in much of the world between religious and secular views. Although the conflict goes back at least a couple of centuries among intellectual minorities, in the last few decades it has become mainstream. Even most people of general religious persuasion are affected by the secular world-view that is becoming dominant.
I think the doctrine of creation is central to this debate. If there is a God, and he made the universe and each of us, then the religious perspective is important. However, if there is no God, or God is defined as something less than the sovereign creator, then any religious perspectives are at best of secondary importance.
Belief in the doctrine of creation began to decline in the mid 19th century, with the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of the Species being the watershed event. However, although Darwin's work is central to this decline, it is only one of many scientific theories and discoveries that changed our view of what the world is, and how it came to be the way it is.
Because this new way of looking at the universe came by means of scientific study rather than divine revelation, theology, or philosophy, it was easy for people to come to the conclusion that there must be some kind of conflict between science and religion or science and philosophy. The extreme view that is on the rise today is that science has either disproved the existence of God, or at least eliminated the need for God, the assumption being that God was something that humans made up in order to explain things they could not understand.
Although some religions have very specific teachings about the age of the Earth or the process of creation which are at odds with current scientific views, I don't see a conflict with the findings of science and the claims of Catholic Christianity. I have read and have spoken with priests and members of religious orders who are also scientists and science teachers who not only think that there is no conflict, but the believe that the findings of science harmonize so beautifully with the Catholic faith that the study of science is beneficial to the faith.
My plan is to write several posts as I think and read about this question. I certainly don't have all of the answers, so ideally there will be some discussion. I hope this exercise will be a learning experience for myself as well as an opportunity to share what I have learned with others.