Ratzinger on the conflict between science and faith

Author: Santiago Collado
Published in: Scientia et Fides 2023; 11(2).
Date of publication: 2023.

summaryThis work addresses Ratzinger's contribution to discussion on the relationship between science and faith. We do not analyze it from the usual schemes that classify this relationship in models such as conflict, independent magisteriums, integration, etc. Ratzinger's position fits better in a outline that classifies the different attitudes adopted before the thesis of conflict. We propose a classification of these attitudes.
We show how Ratzinger recognizes the existence of a real conflict in the relationship between science and faith. We expose the epistemic roots that, according to Ratzinger, give rise to this conflict and we call his attitude towards it "harmonization". The task of harmonization proposal by Ratzinger can only be maintained by faith. It is a faith understood differently from the way it appears in the models of relationship mentioned above and which are usually presented as alternative models. Ratzinger's proposal serves to give unity to these models. He does not approach conflict from the enlightened presuppositions, but rather by unveiling the epistemic keys that determine its nature and that are discovered in a historical process of which our author draws a global picture.
In Ratzinger, conflict is best understood as an insurmountable tension that invites us to undertake a continuous task of purification. The subject of this purification is the images with which faith has been expressed throughout history and the worldviews in which this faith has been received, which have lent it these images.


1. Introduction
2. The conflict in the models of the relationship between science and religion.
3. Is there really a conflict between science and faith?
4. Ratzinger on the models of relationship
5. A conflict without solution?
6. budget of harmonization
7. Nature of the conflict
8. Evolution versus creation
9. Conclusion
10. bibliography

1. Introduction

In this work we address Ratzinger's contribution to the relationship between science and faith. Numerous programs of study have been published on this topic since the 19th century. It is then that thesis of the conflict between science and religion was first formulated explicitly. In response to these thesis various models and classifications have been proposed, which usually constitute the context in which the different proposals can be framed.

Here we approach Ratzinger's contribution from a different approach . The starting point of relationship models is usually that of conflict. In our case we also assume that conflict constitutes the starting point of his proposal, but we do not include it within a outline that classifies alternative models. We look instead at the attitude that Ratzinger adopts in the face of this conflict. This approach allows us to leave the narrow limits imposed by the usual models, and we try to show that faith is the ground on which his contribution rests and not an objectification that is then considered on the same epistemic level as science.

Throughout the text we use the terms faith and religion to contrast them with science. This work deals with the relationship between science and faith, bearing in mind that we are referring to the faith of the Church, that of the author we are studying. The thesis of the conflict, as it is usually posed, is between science and religion. And the conflict arises precisely because the set of affirmations contained therein are assumed by virtue of a faith. For this reason, in the academic environment in which the conflict arises, the core topic of discussion is redirected from religion to faith. One speaks of religion, but very often one is actually speaking of a faith that lacks the elements to be considered a religion. However, in the Roman world in which the Christian faith took root, a religion was lived in which faith was not the essential (Ratzinger 2011b, 71).

Ratzinger deals with the relationship between science and faith in many places in his work and in different contexts. The texts we have used to elaborate our speech are not the only ones we could have chosen and, perhaps, they are not the most appropriate for speech, but we have tried to make them sufficiently relevant. In substance, there is a continuity in the position that Ratzinger maintains with respect to evolutionary theories throughout his written production. This is affirmed by Ratzinger himself and is also assumed, for example, by an author critical of him such as Piergiorgio Odifreddi (Odifreddi 2011, 15).

Javier Novo, however, affirms that Ratzinger adopts a more critical attitude towards the theory of evolution after 1999 (Novo, 2020, p. 335). The criticism pointed out by Novo falls on comments of our author to certain technical aspects of the theory, but in reality it does not point to a change in the philosophical or theological approach of Ratzinger.

The texts in which Novo appreciates this evolution are the later ones and, what seems to me more important, most of the references he makes to these technical aspects are interventions that do not have the same academic character of the texts in which he expounds in a more elaborate and detailed way his thoughts on the topic. This is especially clear in the interventions Benedict XVI made in the colloquia held at Castel Gandolfo in 2006 (Horn and Wiedenhofer 2007). In this case the debates were conditioned by the controversy that had arisen the previous year with the article published in the New York Times by Cardinal Schönborn. These less elaborated texts and, in relation to evolution, as Novo points out, more imprecise or less scientifically up to date, must be placed in their context and must be interpreted in the light of those more developed and in which the theological issues involved are dealt with in greater depth.

It seems to me that taking into account this divergence and its causes, those indicated by Novo, is important to avoid affirmations, such as those made by Odifreddi, which are contrary to the thought of Benedict XVI when he places him, for example, as close to the Intelligent design (Odifreddi 2011, 120). This author admits that there is continuity in Ratzinger's thought and, later on, interprets Ratzinger's statements in a way that denies such continuity. In this work, however, we assume this unity of his thought and, for this reason, we have not made distinctions between different periods in which the texts used were published.

2. The conflict in the models of the relationship between science and religion.

The relationship between science and faith, as topic, has been present in a special way since the 19th century. Before the 19th century there was a complex historical process in which the notions of science, religion and faith were transformed, giving rise to a approach in which the category of conflict found its place.

The texts "History of a Conflict between Science and Religion" (1874) written by John William Draper (1811-1882) and "A History of the War of Science with Theology in Christianity" (1896) by Andrew Dickson White (1832-1918) defended the existence of a permanent conflict between science and religion. Both works incurred in incongruities and historical simplifications of various kinds subject. Their thesis were a common place of criticism and discussion. Since then, several alternative models of relationship to that of conflict have been proposed (Jaki 1990; Udías 2021; Haught 1995; Brooke 1991).

Ian Barbour classified the different relationship models into the following categories: conflict, independence, dialogue and integration (Barbour 1997). Other proposals are variants inspired by this (Haught 1995; Udías 2010). programs of study more recent proposals, however, have emphasized the complexity involved in these relationships (Collado 2013; Dixon, Cantor, and Pumfrey 2010).

When models of relationship are posed as alternative and in polemic with that of conflict, it is easy to assume their very assumptions. These have to do with a reductive understanding of both science and religion. The process in which these notions took shape, as they appear in the thesis of conflict, starts with the beginning of modernity and was consolidated during the Enlightenment. Religion ceased to be understood as a virtue and came to be conceived as a body of doctrine, a propositional set that can be affirmed, denied or systematically compared with other bodies of doctrine founded on principles other than those of faith (Harrison 2020; Harrison, Milbank, and Tyson 2022).

3. Is there really a conflict between science and faith?

There are good reasons for downplaying the thesis importance of the conflict and attributing the responsibility for the antagonism to factors outside the nature of the relationship. Sometimes, for example, it is claimed that the main reason for the Church's condemnation of Galileo was his polemical character, his arrogance, the fact that he ridiculed the Pope, and the influential enemies he reaped from the way he proceeded. Although it can be documented that these factors were present, and that they were also exploited in the formulation of the thesis of the conflict (Artigas and Sánchez de Toca 2008, 38), in reality they are reasons that distract attention and make it difficult to understand why the thesis of the conflict, in spite of being initially formulated in such a deficient manner, has achieved such great notoriety and influence from then until today.

Another reason, which seems more consistent for excluding the conflict, is the conviction that civil service examination is not possible between what God makes known to us through the Revelation received in the bosom of the Church and, on the other hand, what God tells us about himself through the way of being of his creatures and revealed to us by science. If this conviction that comes from faith, present in Christian thought from the beginning, were to serve to reject a priori the thesis conflict, it would not be resolved and would reappear adopting more harmful forms, especially for faith.

The conflict denounced by White and Draper really happened. The Pope acknowledged it, in October 1992, at the closing speech of the commission created by him to study the Galileo Case. The Holy Father affirmed that what happened constituted a problem that pertained to the very relationship between science and faith: "It is true [that the Church committed errors already acknowledged earlier]. However, the problems underlying this case touch on the nature of science and that of the message of faith. Therefore, it cannot be excluded that one day we will find ourselves in an analogous status , which will require both sides to be clearly aware of the scope and limits of their own competencies" (Artigas and Sanchez de Toca 2008, 195).

The Galileo Case, even if it had been the only case of conflict between the Church and science, grants legitimacy to model as a category of relationship between the two. The intellectual challenge is then to determine the nature of this conflict, avoiding incongruent positions such as those mentioned in the nineteenth century, or those that may follow from its trivialization by exclusively highlighting elements that are not those that really explain the nature of the problem.

4. Ratzinger on relationship models

In Ratzinger's writings it is possible to find references to the various models mentioned. His proposal, however, does not seem to me to fit into any of them, despite the fact that it revolves around the conflict, or rather, the tension between science and faith. The conflict is present in his work as a pastoral concern in view of the perception of the scope and consequences that this model has for the understanding and acceptance of faith in today's culture.

Ratzinger does not seek an answer by proposing an alternative model . I think that we can find a place for Ratzinger's proposal within a outline that contemplates the attitudes that have been presented before the thesis of the conflict. I consider that the basic attitudes that have been given before this thesis are: "fundamentalism", "atheism", "concordism" and "harmonization". Atheism is an attitude prior to the existence of modern science, but it adopts specific modalities with the appearance of positive science. I consider that Ratzinger's attitude should be included in the category of harmonization.

Harmony is one of the models contemplated by some of the above-mentioned relationship schemes. The Church is often included among the advocates of this model. It seems to me, however, more appropriate to consider the category of harmonization, understood as a task that is sustained by an attitude. In Ratzinger, harmony between science and faith is not something that is given by the simple meeting of faith and science, just as it is not given without further ado in the meeting between faith and reason. The attitude of harmonization in Ratzinger consists in the search for an ever better understanding of the truth about God, about man and about the methods we have of access to God and to created reality.

The attitude of harmonization is especially present in the Fathers of the Church and also in the authors of the great medieval synthesis such as Thomas Aquinas. In all these cases the true starting point, which constitutes the motor of the task of harmonization, is communion with the faith of the Church.

5. An unresolved conflict?

In "Faith and the Future" Ratzinger presents a particularly crude synthesis of some of the points of conflict through which, in many current circles, an irreparable breach between science and faith is perceived to exist (Ratzinger 2007, 15 ff.). The first difficulties presented in this work have to do, to a large extent, with the contrast that exists between the way in which God and man are spoken to us in the Bible, and what in these revealed contents is assumable for the current mentality enlightened by science. "The image of the clay transformed into man by the hand of God", or that the woman is formed from the side of the sleeping man, as a solution to the problem of his loneliness, are shocking to us today. In particular, the image of Adam's rib is shocking in a cultural context where the claims of feminism are very present. But the difficulty is more acute when we encounter the story of the fall and try to reconcile it with what natural science tells us today.

Ratzinger points out that, according to the natural sciences, man does not begin at the highest level and then falls to the lowest, but quite the contrary: man ascends little by little from an animal condition to the properly human one. The problem becomes greater when we consider that, what we normally admit as evil, was already present in the world long before man existed and, therefore, it does not seem that such evil is a consequence of the sin of the first couple. Moreover, the Bible places Adam in a historical context that is much later than the times in which the natural sciences place the beginning of humanity (Ratzinger 2007, 15-24).

Ratzinger presents the account of original sin as one of the great theological challenges of today: "the inability to understand and present original sin is certainly one of the most serious problems of theology and pastoral work today (...). However, I believe that the theological and pastoral difficulties posed by original sin are certainly not only semantic, but of a deeper nature" (Ratzinger and Messori 2005, 89). He then admits that the magnitude of the challenge goes beyond the confrontation of faith with science. His attitude towards this challenge, which is still relevant today, is reflected in the same text by these words: "If Providence frees me one day from my present responsibilities, I would like to dedicate myself precisely to writing about original sin and the need to discover its authentic reality" (Ratzinger and Messori 2005, 87).

The biblical stories are similar to other contemporary narratives that are difficult to accept today because of the harshness of their descriptions: they present us with a God who punishes with a harshness that is difficult to understand today. Miracles, which appear quite normally in the sacred texts, also clash with a mentality in which natural laws, which science is responsible for discovering, are the ones that dictate what nature can or cannot do. If we remain only with problems arising from the contrast between faith and science, we could also add the difficulty presented today by the Eucharistic dogma of transubstantiation. The notion of substance has become completely obsolete for science and also for a natural Philosophy that seeks its inspiration and its sphere of reflection in the themes raised by the natural sciences (Ratzinger 2007, 23).

The thesis of the 19th century conflict is surpassed by the challenges that the Pope Emeritus highlights as being raised by science to theology. Ratzinger does not respond one by one to all the questions raised, but we can find in his work keys that guide us in the task of harmonization. I summarize them in the following points:

  1. It indicates the presuppositions from which the task of harmonizing science-faith, and also faith-reason, can be approached.
  2. It clarifies the real nature of the conflict in both its ontological and epistemic dimensions and the process of transformation of ideas that is at its origin.
  3. It offers some indications on the path to follow today in order to harmonize science and faith in a concrete case that is perceived as pressing: the confrontation of faith with the theory of evolution.

In the remainder of work I summarize my understanding of each.

6. budget of the harmonization

The basic budget that sustains Ratzinger's attitude is faith. This affirmation, far from constituting a barrier that impedes the dialogue of faith with science, or with reason in general, constitutes the true motor of the attitude that leads to the search for its harmonization and makes it possible.

It may seem that the fruits that this attitude might reap would hardly be acceptable to those who did not share the same faith. This would be so if faith were understood from the perspective adopted by the early advocates of the thesis conflict. A current, and perhaps extreme, expression of this way of conceiving faith is that defended by authors such as Dawkins, for whom faith is a blind assent given to statements without evidence (Giberson and Artigas 2012, 64). Faith is excluded from the rational sphere, which is assumed by the scientific.

"Certainly, much of what theology and faith say can only be made proper within faith and therefore cannot be presented as a demand to those to whom this faith remains inaccessible. At the same time, however, it is true that the message of Christian faith is never merely a comprehensive religious doctrine in Rawls' sense, but a purifying force for reason itself, which financial aid it to become more itself. The Christian message, by virtue of its origin, should always be a stimulus to truth and thus a force against the pressure of power and interests" (speech prepared for the University of La Sapienza, 17-01-2008).

It is therefore important to specify which subject faith is professed by the Church.

Negatively, "faith is not in the first place a great construction of much supernatural knowledge, which should be next to the realm of science as a strange second-rate knowledge" (Ratzinger 2011a, 105). It is this way of conceiving faith that is, at least implicitly, at thesis of the conflict. "Faith is not a diminished form of natural science, a first Degree of knowledge, ancient or medieval, destined necessarily to disappear when true knowledge arrives, but it is something essentially different. It is not a knowledge provisional" (Ratzinger 2011a, 105).

If the paradigm of what rationality is is constituted by the positive sciences, then faith will always be a secondary knowledge that either has to be confined to a reservation that science has not yet reached, or it will be directly locked up in the prison of the irrational. This space has also been prepared in modernity by a process of separation of the goal and the subjective (Ratzinger 2011c, 131). In this process the terrain of the subjective is occupied by feelings, and that is where faith is enclosed.

In this way, conflict is avoided, but a high price is paid. The model of the double magisterium assumes these assumptions. Ratzinger, citing Wolfgang Pauli, considers that this solution to the conflict has serious consequences for humanity by leaving it defenseless before the technological power offered by science: science is freed from morality and faith from the commitment to reason (Ratzinger, 2011b, p. 131).

Affirmatively, the faith of the Church is explained from another perspective:

"The fundamental form of Christian faith is not: I believe something, but: I believe in you. Faith is an openness to reality, which is proper only to one who has confidence, to one who loves, to one who acts as a human being and, as such, does not depend on knowledge but is original like it; indeed, it is a more sustaining and more central element than knowledge for what is properly human" (Ratzinger 2011a, 105).

This trust belongs to a rationality that is proper to love: a dimension of rationality that escapes science. The "I believe in You" affirms that the world proceeds from a creative activity that is itself, in turn, the source of its rationality. The one in whom one trusts is the Creator Logos himself. This makes faith an openness to reality in its globality. An openness that is therefore also openness to science, which it cannot exclude but rather take advantage of: positive science offers us true knowledge about reality. This faith is not a guarantee that there are no conflicts between my knowledge and my faith, but rather that I will be able to face them with the confidence that these conflicts are not original, because as original as knowledge is the confidence on which my faith rests, which, on the other hand, is also the basis of knowledge.

At this point it is convenient to distinguish between what we call here the task of harmonization and that which gives rise to another of the categories mentioned above: concordism. The difference I see between the two categories lies in the fact that concordism seeks to overcome the conflict by trying to show that such a conflict does not really exist: what faith says is the same as what science says, or again, there is nothing in faith that denies what science says, nor in science that denies what faith says. Unlike concordism, harmonization assumes the existence of conflict, but seeks its root causes and harmonizes through a process of purification. But what is it that needs to be purified? Answering this question requires addressing the nature of the conflict.

7. Nature of the conflict

The reason why conflict will be present throughout the historical journey of faith, together with the conviction that harmonization is always possible, is contained in the very structure of faith. The Thou in whom trust is placed is infinite and yet, although our reason is open to this infinity, its creatural condition makes it finite. We cannot encompass the whole reality of the God in whom we believe with our rational categories. "The unity of believing and knowing can never be made fully intelligible, and we need not feel compelled by impatience, otherwise understandable, to formulate hasty syntheses, which in the end compromise faith, instead of being at its service" (Ratzinger 2011a, 107).

The above implies the need to distinguish faith, with its peculiar structure of trust, from the expression of that faith, which is the one that receives diverse formulations that possess a historical character. The expression of faith will never be or will be able to contain completely the faith that is trust in a Thou who, because He is divine, transcends history in which He reveals Himself and in which He makes Himself truly present in various ways. This problem is not specific to the relationship of science with faith, it is especially present in the debates of the first half of the twentieth century that gave rise to modernism, to the "nouvelle théologie" and also to theological developments that were embraced by the Second Vatican Council (Saranyana 2020, chap. 10). The treatment of this problem, of which the conflict between science and faith constitutes a particular case, exceeds the subject matter and the extension of this work.

We could say very briefly that the tension between science and faith shares in the tension that will always be present between faith and reason: it has the same nature. What is peculiar about the contrast between science and faith? Why is this contrast posed as something new? It could be said that, in the confrontation between science and faith, the faith-reason tension reaches a peculiar intensity. This should not surprise us if we bear in mind that positive-scientific rationality has been seen, first in theory and then in the internship, as the final stage of rationality, the overcoming of its mythical or religious and philosophical phases. The peculiar causes for the sharpening of this tension are studied in detail by Ratzinger.

The root of the problem status to which we have arrived lies in a peculiar self-limitation of reason. The problem does not lie in having found a method, the scientific method, which is self-limiting in order to achieve objectives related to the experimental control of the physical world. The problem, and the paradox, is that the success of this method has caused the fragmentation and separation of different dimensions of rationality and has taken away from some of them the label of rationality. Moreover, those that retain that label have, with that self-limitation, undermined their own foundation and have even become dangerous for humanity (Ratzinger 2011c, 147). I will highlight only two elements of the historical-cultural process with which Ratzinger traces the outline of the process leading to the present status .

The first of them has as budget the novelty that the Greek Philosophy supposed in the way of conceiving the foundation of reality and the being of God. Natural science, or Philosophy natural, demystified nature by taking the causes of movement and the foundation of reality out of the hands of the gods. The Philosophy, natural science, managed to think the principles of physical being and to outline ways of access to the supreme being that is God. Aristotle's metaphysics can be considered as a natural theology, an extraordinary attempt to access God with a Philosophy that had shown its strength to give reason for natural being. Ratzinger considers that this metaphysics was still in reality physical (Ratzinger 1999). It seems to me that this affirmation is what explains why Aristotle formulated such problematic, and at the same time profound, notions as that of the "immobile motor".

Christianity introduced important methodical novelties. It succeeded, in a laborious process that culminated in the age of average with the work of Thomas Aquinas, in taking God out of nature and making him transcendent to the natural world, but far removed from a mythical context. A new metaphysics was developed which, in continuity with Aristotelian metaphysics, opened space in thought for faith in creation. It succeeded in separating metaphysics from physics: "God is God by nature, but nature as such is not God. There is a separation between universal nature and the being that founds it, that gives it its origin. Only then can physics and metaphysics be clearly distinguished from each other" (Ratzinger 1999).

At the beginning of modernity, a movement that displaces the priority of being as transcendental by means of a new consideration of the true is consolidated. According to Ratzinger, the pioneering thinker in this "modern" way of thinking was Giambattista Vico (1688-1744).

"The scholastics said: Verum est ens being is truth, to this Vico opposes with another formula: Verum quia factum; this means that the only thing we can recognize as true is what we ourselves have made. In my opinion this formula marks the end of the old metaphysics and the beginning of the authentic modern spirit" (Ratzinger 2013, 39).

Truth no longer lies in the adequacy of thinking with being, as in classical doctrine, but is displaced to what we can do and, therefore, to the subject of thought that can exercise control over reality. What is true is what is repeatable, what we can do. Consequently, truth shifts from being to method.

In relation to positive science, Ratzinger affirms that its presuppositions are to be sought in the peculiar union of Plato's thought with experimentation. A decisive role in this union was played by the hypothetical use of mathematics in the exploration of the natural world. The success of this new method allows the understanding of truth proposal by Vico to open up and gradually establish itself as a paradigm of rationality.

"For in this technical-scientific epoch a special temptation class is taking place. The technical and scientific attitude has brought with it a special subject of certainty, that which can be confirmed through experiment and mathematical formula. This has indeed provided man with an express liberation from fear and superstition and has given him a certain power over the Universe. But therein lies precisely the temptation, in considering only as rational, and therefore serious, what can be verified by experiment and calculation. This means, therefore, that the moral and the sacred no longer count for anything. They have been relegated to the sphere of the surpassed, of the irrational" (Ratzinger 1992, 71).

The result of the movement we are describing is that physics and metaphysics are once again united. But now physics is no longer the philosophical physics of the classics. There has been a split within the old natural science (Arana 2015): we have Philosophy of nature on the one hand, and natural science, which is positive, on the other.

It is the natural sciences that assume the role played by metaphysics, including the dignity of reasoning about the being of God and his existence. After the late 19th and early 20th century crisis of experimental physics, the scientific discipline that seemed to be in a position to constitute itself as the new metaphysics was the theory of evolution: "A theory of evolution that jointly explains the sum of all that is real became a kind of Philosophy first, representing, let us say, the true foundation of the rational understanding of the world" (Ratzinger 1999).

From the beginning of the twentieth century, the challenge to faith was the theory of evolution which, as in previous centuries with mechanics and mechanicism, gave rise to a subject of rationality that we can describe as evolutionary: "The decline of metaphysics has been accompanied by the decline of the doctrine of creation. In its place has taken its place a Philosophy of evolution (which I would like to expressly distinguish from the scientific hypothesis of evolution)" (Ratzinger 1992, 14).

8. Evolution versus creation

"There is no way to avoid a discussion on the scope of the doctrine of evolution as the first Philosophy and on the exclusivity of the positive method as the only form of science and rationality. This discussion must take place serenely on both sides" (Ratzinger 1999).

Ratzinger shows how science has forced us to renounce an idea of creation, which today is called fixist, and which corresponds to an ancient image of the world. This image embraced faith from the beginning, it was prior to it, making it possible to confuse faith with its historical expression. In the Fathers of the Church we can appreciate the interest in distinguishing between image and faith, especially when commenting on Old Testament texts such as Genesis. Paradoxically, modernity seemed to reinforce this confusion at the same time that it revealed the invalidity of the image: it began to fall, and with a great deal of noise, with the Copernican revolution. The culmination of that collapse was brought about by the theory of evolution. "It is clear that this form of faith in creation [fixist] contradicts the idea of evolution and that such an expression of faith is untenable today" (Ratzinger 2011b, 119). Harmonization at this point is made possible by the purification of both science and the image in which faith is expressed. Purification does not mean the same thing for both sides.

There are topics where science and faith overlap. The origin of the human being is one of them. But science and faith correspond to methods that move on different planes. The tension that this status produces cannot be resolved by shifting thematic boundaries, but rather by maintaining methodical coherence.

The scope covered by the doctrine of creation is broader than that of the theory of evolution. The inquiry made by the doctrine of creation is outside the scope of scientific theory. The purification of science consists, at least in part, in remaining within its methodical scope. This does not mean that faith imposes restrictions on its method, but rather that it calls upon it to remain faithful to itself, so that science does not make assertions that are inconsistent with its methodical scope. Although the limits of the method can change because methods are dynamic, the same does not happen with the level of speech in which it moves: positive science, by its nature, is conditioned by its link with experiment.

"The problem that arises from faith is to ascertain whether the idea of creation, as the broader of the two, can include in its scope the idea of evolution or whether the latter, on the contrary, contradicts the basic approach of the former" (Ratzinger 2011b, 121).

The problem of fixism does not pose special problems for the faith of the Church today, except if we consider evolution with respect to the human being. To place him in the same evolutionary chain in which the rest of the animals are placed is, in the end, to admit that the spirit comes from the subject and this, Ratzinger recognizes, compromises the very existence of God as creator. It does not seem to be a sufficient solution that leads to submit the bodily sphere to natural laws and the spiritual to direct divine action. "Can man really be divided between theologians and scientists in this way: the soul for some, the body for others? Would this solution not be intolerable for some as well as for others?" (Ratzinger 2011b, 122-23).

For Ratzinger, the need to distinguish faith from the image of the world that embraces it and in which it is expressed becomes more acute. Harmonization does not consist in saying that in reality what faith says is what the theory of evolution says: "It would be foolish and false to pass off the theory of evolution as a product of faith, even if it contributed to the training of the horizon of thought in which the question of evolution could later emerge. It would be even more foolish to conceive faith as a sort of illustration of the theory of evolution and to want to confirm the latter by means of the former" (Ratzinger 2011b, 126). This would be an exercise of what we have called concordism.

Ratzinger calls for an understanding of creation that truly embraces what we know from the theory of evolution and, in my view, he himself points the way to renew the way of thinking about being that metaphysics had achieved and that its crisis dissolved. He also seeks images that are more appropriate than those that emerged from a mechanistic worldview that has conditioned our understanding of creation (Ramage 2020).

The harmonization of creation and evolution makes it necessary to consider becoming, which is described by evolutionary theories as part of the creative act: God does not create in time. This requires thinking of special creation, particularly in the case of the human being, as a special ontological dependence on God.

"For what constitutes the human being as such is not the employment of weapons or fire, nor the invention of new methods of cruelty or profit, but his capacity to relate directly to God. This is what sustains the doctrine of the special creation of the human being; therein lies the center of faith in creation in general. Therein lies also the reason why it is impossible for paleontology to fix the precise instant of hominization: hominization is the emergence of the spirit, which cannot be unearthed with financial aid of a shovel. The theory of evolution does not suppress faith, nor does it confirm it. But it requires it to understand itself more deeply, thus helping the human being to understand himself and to become more and more what he already is: the being called to say eternally 'you' to God" (Ratzinger 2011b, 130).

9. Conclusion

In contrast to the models of relationship that emerged from the 19th century onwards as a response to the thesis of conflict, and which to a large extent assume its presuppositions, we have seen that Ratzinger's position is based on an attitude that can only be maintained from faith and that involves a task that never reaches its culmination. Ratzinger faces the problem of the tension between faith and reason which, in the emergence of science, and especially when it is assumed as a paradigm of rationality, is perceived as a conflict. Our author approaches this conflict, but not from the enlightened assumptions but by revealing the keys that determine its nature and that follow a historical process of which he draws a global picture.

Instead of framing his contribution in a outline of alternative models to the conflict, I think it is more appropriate to frame it in one that classifies the attitudes that have arisen in the face of it. We have proposed four basic attitudes: fundamentalist, atheist, concordist and harmonization. We believe that our author has the last one.

Harmonization is a task that demands purification. Purification affects both the categories and images with which faith is expressed, as well as science itself. The subject of purification is different for each part.

At its core, the problem that causes the tension to turn into conflict arises as a consequence of the narrowing of reason that the scientific one adopts as model of rationality. The natural sciences have been assuming the position that classical metaphysics once held. The self-limitation of rationality arising from this process has led faith to be considered as something subjective, sentimental or, in any case, non-rational.

Ratzinger's attitude constitutes a response that is in line with the warnings of St. John Paul II on the occasion of the Church's review of the Galileo Case. Ratzinger makes it clear that faith and science are knowledge that move on different levels and points out the limits and connections of each sphere. The solution to the conflict does not lie in shifting the boundaries of faith to make room for the ever-changing boundaries of science. The models of the double magisterium or of concordism in general move in this direction. It is a matter of sustaining the effort to maintain the methodical coherence of each discipline. This does not exclude overlaps that sometimes provoke conflicts, but uses them as a stimulus for mutual inspiration and purification.

10. bibliography

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