Interview with Mariano Artigas in Zenit

Interview with Mariano Artigas in Zenit

Posted in: Zenit
date of on-line publication: March 24, 2004

For science with a conscience

The academic Mariano Artigas, author of works on faith and science, speaks at core topic .

Science and faith have much to contribute to each other, says the academic Mariano Artigas (Zaragoza, 1938), who has just published the sixth edition of his famous book "Ciencia, razón y fe" (Science, reason and faith) at update .

In this interview with Zenit, the professor, a professor of nature and science at the University of Navarra, Philosophy , recalls that "with an adequate combination of religious sense and scientific and technical knowledge, many of the most serious problems that humanity suffers today could be solved".

Professor Artigas is a member of the International Academy of Philosophy of Sciences in Brussels and of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas of the Holy See.

Is Galileo still an unsolved problem?

Artigas: When I speak of the Galileo case as an unsolved problem, I am referring to the value of scientific theories. Cardinal Bellarmine told Galileo that he would have no problems if he presented his theory as a hypothetical model , useful for calculating phenomena.

Pope Urban VIII said that one could not know if his model was true, because God is all-powerful and perhaps the effects we observe are due to causes that do not coincide with our theory.

Galileo thought that the new science sought the truth and could achieve it: he was a realist. So am I.

But nowadays the opposite idea is widely held. The Galileo case is very long and complicated, very few people know it well.

I have recently published, together with William Shea, one of the best Galileo specialists, "Galileo in Rome" (Ediciones meeting, Madrid), which has also been published in New York and is selling well ("Galileo in Rome", Oxford University Press, New York). In that book we provide all the data to know exactly what happened, taking as outline the six trips Galileo made to Rome.

What are today's "new Galileo cases"?

Artigas: There has been no other case like Galileo. The Church authorities learned their lesson. The closest thing would be evolutionism. There were actions against it; I am currently preparing a book in which I use the hitherto unknown documents of the file of the Holy official document. But there was never any condemnation of evolutionism by the authorities in Rome.

Current issues such as abortion, sexual ethics or bioethics have nothing to do with the Galileo case: the Church accepts all the data of science, it simply does not agree agreement that it is morally right to do everything that the available techniques allow us to do.

I would say that the danger today is rather that there are reverse Galileo cases. That is, scientists or philosophers who use the authority of science to pontificate on religious or moral questions that fall outside the realm of science.

What is the Church's position on evolutionism, simply put?

Artigas: In 1950 Pope Pius XII, in the encyclical "Humani generis", said that evolutionism was a hypothesis, that the origin of the human organism could be discussed as long as it is admitted that God creates the spiritual soul in every human being.

In 1996 Pope John Paul II referred to evolutionism as more than a hypothesis, which is supported by a body of independent evidence, and stated that the problems do not arise from science, but from materialistic ideologies that are not scientific.

In "Science, Reason and Faith" I have included a chapter summarising the problems of evolutionism, and there I quote the relevant texts of the Magisterium of the Church.

Moreover, the same publishing house Eunsa, Pamplona, will soon publish an updated edition of my book "The Frontiers of Evolutionism", where attention will cover these issues more extensively, with as much clarity as possible.

How financial aid faith to science, and vice versa?

Artigas: Science occupies a central place in our civilisation, and given its enormous prestige, there is a danger similar to that of absolute majorities in politics: ignoring other approaches.

Faith sample that there is a spiritual world that science does not reach, and financial aid to give authentic meaning to science as a search for truth and service to humanity, from agreement with God's plans.

Science, in turn, provides many means to improve the quality of human life.

With the right combination of religious sense and scientific and technical knowledge, many of the most serious problems facing humanity today could be solved.

Are we totally dependent on science, or do we have a certain margin of autonomy?

Artigas: Science is a human product. It is we who make it. It is absurd that sometimes we are the victims of our own product. I have already said that I am a realist: there is an order in nature that is there and we cannot invent it, through science we try to know it better and better and we learn to use it in a controlled way. But science cannot tell us how to use this knowledge: science needs to be complemented by a reflection goal- scientific, philosophical, moral, religious subject . Science requires a complement of conscience. It gives us an ever-increasing power, but it is a mistake to think that everything that can be done is correct. It is our responsibility to approach science and science-based technology correctly.