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Understanding The Interpretive Frame Of Faith And Science — 1 Comment

  1. Thanks for the insightful article, Father James. The rough concepts of “interpretive frames” and “bunker mentalities” had been on my mind a great deal lately, but I hadn’t put exact names to such phenomena until reading this. On the “Faith and Science” front, I’ve certainly been struck by the confusion and even cognitive dissonance many of my atheist and agnostic friends (and even one of my brothers) have displayed over the past few years since I’ve returned to the Catholic faith – “but you’ve had a scientific education!”, “but you’re a liberal humanist!”, “but you believe in evolution and the Big Bang, don’t you?”. The centuries-long academic contributions of Jesuit, Franciscan and other priest-scientists, the rich tradition of Catholic humanism, and the fact that the church has endorsed those mentioned models of cosmology and evolutionary biology for longer than I’ve been alive, just don’t register in their worldview. I suspect even to the extent that I’ve convinced a few of them that religious faith and science can theoretically co-exist, those friends still see me as an odd, enlightened exception to a broader image of illiberal and science-hostile Catholicism that is firmly cemented in their “interpretive frames”.

    To be fair, these narrow worldview-frames exist in the other direction as well – I’ve definitely noticed a certain amount of bemusement and politely concealed disinterest when I talk about Faith and Science issues with my fellow theology students or parish members, and one student colleague (a seminarian) gently teased that I might have wandered into the wrong classroom on my way to the sciences faculty… which both amused and pained me, coming from an aspiring minister in the church of Roger Bacon, Teilhard de Chardin, and Georges Lemaître! But there you are; certainly I’m painfully aware that I’m well embedded in many manifestations of my own bunker mentality on issues that I hold strong views over, which I need to work harder at digging out of. 🙂

    As to the question “What do you think is the pathway out of this “club” mentality? Can we engage each other in a charitable manner that steps us out of our presumptions to explore questions of truth? And can we do this in a way that promotes charity, patience, and unity instead of polemics dug into their respective bunkers?” I don’t know of any easy answers, and I think the hard answer is constant recourse to the old stand-by of patient, open-minded, respectful and loving dialogue with our fellow humans. Which can be harder than ever in our modern world of polarized politics, non-overlapping social media bubbles, and aggressively clashing value systems, but we have to keep trying, and have faith that it’s the right path.

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