On Science and Faith
Science and Faith.
These two things, both of them complex and sometimes difficult to understand, seem to be eternally at odds with each other. There always seems to be some new scientific evidence that “disproves faith,” or someone using faith as an argument against science.
Fortunately for us, this notion of perpetual conflict is false. Science and Faith are not at odds with each other, and instead are meant to perfectly complement each other. Science covers all aspects of life that Faith cannot, and Faith covers all aspects of life that Science cannot. Because of this, in fact, Science and Faith can never be at odds with each other.
As an example, think of the theory of evolution by natural selection*:
In the theory of natural selection, organisms produce more offspring (than) are able to survive in their environment. Those that are better physically equipped to survive, grow to maturity, and reproduce. Those that are lacking in such fitness, on the other hand, either do not reach an age when they can reproduce or produce fewer offspring than their counterparts.National Geographic
* It is important to note here that evolution and natural selection are not the same as eugenics and artificial selection. Eugenics, or any other attempts by humans to artificially select which groups of humans are “better” than others and to remove other groups from the population, are never okay. Natural selection is a process that was created by God to naturally create new species of organisms over time.
This theory of evolution seems as if it directly contradicts the Bible. How can both Science and Faith be true when one says evolution is the way we were created and the other says that God created us directly a few thousand years ago?
The answer to this is simple: Science is meant to explain the world around us, which was created by God. Faith, and by extension the Bible, is meant to explain why this world was created and what our role in it is.
The passage in the Bible that describes the creation of the world is not describing what actually happened; instead, it gives us a way to better understand that we were created by God to be loved and to love each other. It also says that we, as humans, are tasked with “ruling over” all the other creatures, which means that it is our job to take care of this world and all creatures in it.
Evolution, on the other hand, tells us how we came into existence. It allows us to understand the mechanisms behind how we exist rather than the reason why.
Through both the scientific understanding of how we came into existence and the theological understanding of why we are here, we can gain a better understanding of the Creator. This is roughly analogous to being able to understand or contemplate the motives or personality of a human artist by looking at what they create. Because of this, the Catholic Church accepts any new scientific discoveries or theories as a way to better understand our own Creator, God.
In the next part of the On Science and Faith series, titled “Existence,” we will delve deeper into some other ways of understanding who or what God is in relation to science, specifically focusing on God as “the sheer act of to be.“