Ok, well I’m biased, the author of this article was my M.A. thesis director, but it is an excellent piece about the relationship between science and religion. The article published this week in America Magazine is titled, “Faith and the Cosmos: Can Catholic Universities Foster Dialogue Between Religion and Science?” Sr. Ilia Delio, OSF, is both a scientist and a theologian. With a doctorate in pharmacology and a doctorate in historical theology, she is one of the few theologians or scientists to really be able to get at what both sides of the “science and religion” conversations have to offer — someone like Alister McGrath of Oxford University is another with both doctorates in science (biology) and theology.
Ilia concludes her piece with this insightful paragraph:
To restore soul to the university may require a re-imagining of education, including a search for new ways to develop dialogue between science and religion. Development of this relationship can enrich personal life, community life and the life of the planet. As John Paul II wrote, “The things of the earth and the concerns of faith derive from the same God,” for it is one and the same Love “which moves the sun and the other stars.” Both the light of faith and the insights of science can help humanity evolve toward a more sustainable future.
Her last sentence is absolutely correct. Unlike popular stereotypes of either science or religion, the disciplines are not antagonistic. They are only contradictory or overtly problematic in relationship to the other when set against each other in such a way as to suggest each offers an alternative answer to the same question. Yet, they do not. The simplest, although admittintly too simple, way I explain this is to remind others that science primarily deals with the question of “how” concerning the universe, while religion deals with the question of “why.”