And then I wrote: As I mentioned previously, in 2009 the Redemptorist Press invited me to write a series of reflections on issues of religion and science for the Sunday bulletins that are distributed in churches throughout the United Kingdom.
As it happens, the days of the week in 2009 match those of 2020 (after this year's leap day) and the liturgical calendar also matches; thus, both in 2009 and 2020, the 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time falls on 26 July. Here's what I wrote for the fourth reflection:
“The war between science and religion” is an idea being heavily marketed nowadays. Certain popular writers cite the conflicts of the Church with Galileo, or Copernicus, or Darwin, as proof that somehow being an atheist is the mark of a real scientist. That latter idea is easily enough refuted, simply by noting the number of scientists throughout history who have been devoutly religious… including Galileo, Copernicus, and even at one time Darwin. (His faith was shaken not by his science, but the death of a beloved daughter.)
If there is a rivalry between science and religion, it is a sibling rivalry. Science was born in the medieval universities, established and nurtured by the Church. Christianity (like Judaism before it) taught that the Universe was created by God, Who established it on unwavering laws. Without that belief, there would have been no foundation on which to base our search to find and understand those laws.
Much of the scientific work in the centuries following Copernicus and Galileo was actually done by clergymen. After all, they were among the few people back then with the education and the free time needed to gather unusual leaves or search the skies for double stars. The sorting and classifying of data that is essential to all scientific work is still called “clerical” work. And “professors” at a university got their title originally from their profession of religious vows.
The modern conflict between science and religion is, in fact, a product of the Victorian era…
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