January 30, 2008

Seductive Science Vs Spirituality


by Rachael Grant

Science vs. religion debates have been around for a long time, and trailing on the back of the recent cancellation of Pope Benedict’s speech due to student protests, he has warned against the ‘seductive’ powers of science.

According to the Pope ‘no science can say who man is, where he comes from or where he’s going’, and he calls for research into theology, philosophy, and anthropology alongside the conventional scientific research.

A sentiment first uttered in 2005, when Benedict became elected, is reiterated, where he asks for mankind to be ‘respected as the centre of creation’. Addressing a group of academics at a meeting sponsored by the Paris Academy of Sciences and Pontifical Academy of Sciences, he went on to say that the existence of man is not down to ‘chance, or a bundle of convergences, determinisms, or physical and chemical reactions’. He insists that science should not become the criteria for goodness.

Students and teachers of La Sapienza university in Rome, when protesting against the proposed speech on January 17, cited previous views expressed by Benedict that they considered old fashioned, such as his stance on abortion, and stem-cell research. His views on science were particularly highlighted, suggesting that a speech he gave in 1990 would show that he would have backed the views of the church in the seventeenth century, at the heresy trial against Galileo.

Commenting on the criticism, the Vatican claim that the speech was misunderstood; it was made over seventeen years ago, when the Pope was still a Cardinal.

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