religion and science

Much has been said and written about the so-called conflict between religion and science, as though the one were a contradiction or denial of the other. This conflict is for the most part imaginary. Religion and science lie in different provinces and each has its own legitimate field; the former deals mostly with the world of unseen realities which science cannot know, the latter mostly with the world of sense and matter about which religion has little to say. God is the source of both in so far as they are true, hence there can be no real contradiction between them. Conflict arises only when the scientist tries to turn theologian, or the theologian scientist. In other words, whatever conflict there is, it is not between religion and science, but between theologian and scientist when either or both overstep the limits of their respective fields in interpreting certain facts or in drawing certain conclusions from facts. "The scientist studies phenomena and their laws. The moment he abandons secondary causes to occupy himself with flrst and final causes he is false to his method and must become involved in an inextricable labyrinth; but so long as he is content to confine himself to matter and sequences of material phenomena there is little danger of unfriendly encounter between himself and the theologian who understands his business." (Spalding, Lectures and Discourses) Likewise the theologian as long as he remains within his territory of revealed doctrine is not likely to bring upon himself the attacks of scientists. It is when he engages in speculation on matters about which religion should have nothing to say that he occasions what is so wrongly called the conflict between religion and science. The remedy or prevention lies in ascertaining what religion really teaches and what science really proves and in distinguishing this knowledge carefully from the speculations of some theologians on the one hand or the opinions of some men of science on the other. The truly great in either field are witnesses to the fact that true science and true religion are not at war with one another.

New Catholic Dictionary

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