Faith and Science often seem to be at odds with one another. But the real problem is that science ignores faith, and when religious leaders remind them of this, they are accused of interference, superstitious thinking, and all those names that foster ill will, rather than dialogue. That is why it was so wonderful to see the Pope and Stephen Hawkins participate at a Conference on the topic of evolution. The conference was sponsored by the Pontifical Academy of Science founded in 1936 by Pope Pius XII.
The work of the Academy covers six main areas:
(a) fundamental science,
(b) the science and technology of global questions and issues,
(c) science in favor of the problems of the Third World,
(d) the ethics and politics of science,
(The Catholic Herald, UK) reported on the Conference Nov. 7:2008
– Pope Benedict XVI met Cambridge physicist Stephen Hawking last week at a Vatican conference on evolution which brought together some of the world’s leading theologians and scientists.
Both the Pope and the world-renowned cosmologist were star speakers at the five-day conference, which was organized by the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.
Benedict XVI said in his address that there was no conflict between faith’s understanding of creation and the evidence of science.
“In order to develop and evolve, the world must first be, and thus have come from nothing into being. It must be created,” the Pope said.
But God’s work in creating matter and life out of nothing did not end there, he said. The Creator founded the cosmos and its developments and “supports them, underpins them and sustains them continually”.
Benedict XVI said that creation was not just the starting point of life but “the foundational and continuing relationship that links the creature to the Creator, for he is the cause of every being and all becoming”.
The Church teaches “every spiritual soul is created immediately by God – it is not produced by the parents – and also that it is immortal,” he said, quoting the Catechism. Benedict argued that science has helped deepen the Church’s understanding that humanity has a unique and distinctive place in the cosmos. Only the person, a spiritual being, has a hunger and capacity for God, he said.