Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pope Benedict XVI Speaks Out on Evolution

The more I hear from Pope Benedict XVI, the more I like him! I'll admit that I was a bit unsure of him when he took over from John Paul II because he seemed to lack the warmth of his predecessor. However, I've come to believe that he is absolutely the right pontiff for a post-9/11 world. With Christianity under attack from militant Islam and also secularism, we need a strong defender of the Faith.

Yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI spoke to around 400 priests in the Diocese of Belluno and Feltre in Italy. He vigorously defended the idea that Reason and Faith are complementary ways of knowledge:
Christians believe that human beings are special precisely because they have a capacity for puzzling over and groping for meaning in a way that goes well beyond concern for their material needs.

"Our being is open," [Pope Benedict XVI] said. "It can hear the voice of being itself -- the voice of God. The greatness of the human person lies precisely in the fact that he is not closed in on himself, he is not reduced to concern about the material and quantifiable, but has an interior opening to the things that are essential, has the possibility of listening."

Pope Benedict also told the priests that evolution and the existence of God the creator should not be seen as two ideas in strict opposition to one another.

"Evolution exists, but it is not enough to answer the great questions," such as how human beings came to exist and why human beings have an inherent dignity, he said.

Father Lombardi said the pope had told the priests that when they encounter young people who think science has all the answers and they do not need God, priests should help them see "the great harmony of the universe" and ask if science alone can explain how it all works together and leads to such beauty.

"A world without God would become a world of the arbitrary," the pope told the priests.
This is what makes me glad to be Catholic! We are not forced to ignore science in the name of faith, but realize that they answer different questions. Science deals with "efficient" causes (HOW something happens) while faith deals with "final" causes (WHY something happens). To use Dr. Owen Gingerich's example from God's Universe, it's the difference between saying that water is boiling because it has been heated to 212 degrees Fahrenheit and saying that the water is boiling because I want to make a cup of tea.

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