Benedict XVI on Science, Philosophy, & Faith ~ The Imaginative Conservative

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

While Benedict XVI may not himself have made great contributions to the natural sciences, he made what is much more important: a contribution to understanding a world in which the truth is one, is God’s, and, from atoms to archangels, is capable of being seen as connected.

A great deal has been written about the late Pope Benedict XVI. One area not often remarked upon is that of his contributions to the dialogue among theology, philosophy, and natural sciences. But both as a thinker and a churchman he was an indefatigable worker who strived to make the conversations among science, theology, and philosophy a matter of argument toward truth and not mere quarreling about territory.

First, his own official actions opened a space for honest dialogue about the relationship between Christians, in particular the Catholic Church, and science. Strikingly, in a contemporary world in which distrust has been said to (and sometimes does) characterize religious believers and scientists, Ratzinger’s words and deeds demonstrate a fearless belief that reason can bring us to knowledge of the truth.  Joseph Ratzinger’s fearlessness concerning science was made clear when he was serving as the prefect for the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the chief doctrinal office of the pope, and helped to open up Vatican Archives to researchers investigating whether Church courts treated medieval scientists, including Galileo, fairly. In gratefulness for this work, two astronomers, L. D. Schmadel and F. Borngen, successfully proposed naming a newly-discovered asteroid “Ratzinger 8861” after the German then-cardinal. Indeed, this openness is a characteristic of his entire career.

The modern world is considered a very difficult place for many believers because of the pressure of various secular groups, particularly in the modern west. One option taken by many has been to reject the fruits of modern science in the name of theological truth claims and older understandings of history and science formed under a more congenial climate for religious belief. This is often called fundamentalism. Another popular option is to take the fruit of modern scientific and historical claims as alternative dogmas, then reorient and redefine all theological and moral teachings around them. This is often called liberalism.


Benedict XVI on Science, Philosophy, & Faith ~ The Imaginative Conservative

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