Science and Religion: The Need For Synthesis

Pope Benedict XVI Reprinted in FAITH Magazine May-June 2006

Most of the second half of an address of Benedict XVI to participants in the plenary assembly of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, 10th February, 2006

….  This love for truth also inspires and directs the Christian approach to the contemporary world and the evangelizing commitment of the Church, topics which you have taken time to discuss at your plenary assembly.

The Church welcomes with joy the authentic breakthroughs of human knowledge and recognizes that evangelization also demands a proper grasp of the horizons and the challenges that modern knowledge is unfolding. In fact, the great progress of scientific knowledge that we saw during the last century has helped us understand the mystery of creation better and has profoundly marked the awareness of all peoples.

However, scientific advances have sometimes been so rapid as to make it very difficult to discern whether they are compatible with the truths about man and the world that God has revealed. At times, certain assertions of scientific knowledge have even been opposed to these truths. This may have given rise to a certain confusion among the faithful and may also have made the proclamation and acceptance of the Gospel difficult.

Consequently, every study that aims to deepen the knowledge of the truths discovered by reason is vitally important, in the certainty that there is no "competition of any kind between reason and faith" ("Fides et Ratio," No. 17).

We must have no fears about facing this challenge: Jesus Christ is indeed the Lord of all creation and of all history. The believer knows well that "all things were created through him and for him ... and in him all things hold together" (Colossians 1:16,17).

By continually deepening our knowledge of Christ, the centre of the cosmos and of history, we can show the men and women of our time that faith in him is important for humanity's future: Indeed, it is the accomplishment of all that is authentically human. Only in this perspective will we be able to give convincing answers to the person who is searching.

This commitment is crucially important for the proclamation and transmission of the faith in the contemporary world. Today, in fact, the task of evangelizing is an urgent priority and demands equal commitment.

The dialogue between faith and reason, religion and science, does not only make it possible to show people of our time the reasonableness of faith in God as effectively and convincingly as possible, but also to demonstrate that the definitive fulfillment of every authentic human aspiration rests in Jesus Christ. In this regard, a serious evangelizing effort cannot ignore the questions that arise also from today's scientific and philosophical discoveries ….

Faith Magazine