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What is the relationship between faith and science today?

Author: José Manuel Giménez Amaya
Published in: 50 Questions on Faith, 17

For some years now, the relationship between science and faith has been experiencing a rapprochement that seemed unthinkable at other times. In my opinion, this process - a process in the sense that it is developing slowly and very subtly - has been substantially influenced by at least three factors.

1.The first is of a religious nature. The impressive prestige of the last two pontificates of the Catholic Church, in which much emphasis has been placed on the rationality of faith and on the question of the knowledge of truth, is slowly but surely bearing fruit. The catechesis, marked by an intelligent and attractive outline, given by John Paul II and now Benedict XVI, clearly and effectively convey the idea that the Church is not a kind of spiritual ghetto that has nothing to do with the development and the scientific achievements of man. After the dramatic experiences against human existence that we have lived through and that we still live through every day, we are beginning to understand that the Church is a true and strong guarantor in the defence of man against a senseless science that can turn against the human being himself.

2.The second factor is the crisis of experimental science itself, which occurred in the last years of the last century and the beginning of this one. Here, too, a twentieth century full of impressive and devastating tragedies - the likes of which have never been seen before in the history of mankind - in which science with all its technological arsenal has played a major role, seems to be weighing heavily on human life on earth. Moreover, it has become clear that science is insufficient to provide convincing answers to the great questions of contemporary man, which are, to a large extent, of an ethical and existential nature.

At the same time, the sciences themselves have been curtailed in their approach researcher by the very finiteness of the experimental method. This has been seen especially in the disciplines that have been characteristically primed in recent decades: the biomedical sciences. The big questions about the functioning of the human body and the development of devastating disorders, such as cancer, cardiovascular, neurodegenerative or mental diseases, are still in many respects unanswered. Likewise, one of the most developed biological sciences, neuroscience, has brought to the fore that the big questions about our brain and its importance in our behaviour are still a long way from receiving enlightening answers.

3.The third factor is the conviction that the lack of expectations of experimental science calls for unity of knowledge and interdisciplinarity. Both of these are increasingly seen as truly necessary in order to tackle the most complex problems of human beings and nature. However, these aspects have been largely neglected in the training of people, and are now not fully available to anyone who wants to use them. Something has gone wrong, and simply going back to the past does not fix it. A renewed vision of knowledge and its anthropological location in the human being is needed.

Hence the growing interest in the relationship between science and faith. In this dialogue, the basic question is the knowledge of truth. Faith and science are not opposed but complement each other in order to arrive at the truth. This is one of the core points of Benedict XVI's message: the conviction that everything that is truly rational is compatible with the faith revealed by God and with the Holy Scriptures. group Authors such as, among others, Mariano Artigas, founder of our research centre Science, Reason and Faith at the University of Navarra (CRYF), have also rightly pointed out that reason in its broadest sense - philosophy - is a privileged bridge to masterfully articulate the relationship between science and faith.