June 15th, 2017
Is there any Inconsistency between Christianity and Science? – Fr Andrew Pinsent
If you couldn’t make it to the 1st Philosophy on Tap or you just want to go through what was discussed that night one more time, here is a summary of Fr Andrew Pinsent’s main ideas.
Is there any Inconsistency between Christianity and Science?
Fr Andrew Pinsent
At the Captain Kidd, Wapping
Monday 29th May
It is quite common nowadays to meet the view that science can or, at least will in future, answer all our major life questions – what could be called the ‘Dawkins’ thesis! This session, beautifully gathered beside the Thames in the Captain Kidd pub with drinks available, was a great opportunity for a good meeting of all ages to rehearse, question or comment on this debate.
A major part of Andrew’s presentation was to put before us how many Catholics over the ages have been in the forefront of scientific research and discovery. Lay Catholics and Religious, including quite a number of Jesuits, have been involved in cosmology, astronomy, theology, philosophy, genetics and other disciplines in which the insights of science and the tenants of faith have combined and have expanded our civilisation. As Catholics, or committed Christians, he suggested we have often backed off from publicising just how much people of faith have contributed to advances in scientific research. Many scientists also have been people of a deep faith commitment.
The Big Bang theory of the origins of the universe, for instance, is traceable back to a priest, Fr Georges Lemaitre. By way of contrast to people of faith who have also been scientists, quite a number of avowedly atheist regimes have actually denied certain scientific theories; such as the genetic theory of Gregor Mendel in the Soviet Union.
Fr. Pinsent was keen to emphasise how Catholics should not be defensive about the contribution of Church people to the advancement of science and that most definitely includes the contribution of women. Dorotea Bucca who died in 1436, for instance, occupied a chair in medicine at the University of Bologna for over forty years.
In the discussion that followed, there were some who perhaps felt that Richard Dawkins had not been given enough time or thought, looking at reasons why some people do believe that science and faith are incompatible. However, in a sense, that took us on to the following philosophy-on-tap session (see report on the website).
Thanks to Andrew Pinsent whose presentation was much appreciated; so much so that his CTS publication was in demand – ‘LUMEN: The Catholic Gift to Civilisation’ with Fr. Marcus Holden
Stephen Power SJ