Do you agree or disagree with each the following?
- Science proves that there is no God.
- Scripture challenges scientific theories and laws.
- The world was created in 6 (24-hour) days (followed by a day of rest).
- Darwin’s theory of evolution conflicts with the notion of God’s providence.
- Science and faith are fundamentally in conflict.
If you answered “agree” to any of the above, boy do I have the book for you!
In A Catholic Teacher’s Guide to Answering Questions about Science and Faith Ted Laxton, former Catholic chaplain, principal, and science and religion consultant, takes readers gently by the hand through important subjects marking the realm of science and faith – laws of nature, quantum theory, cosmology, and the theory of evolution. His aim is to help readers understand why – according to Catholic teaching – these two ways of knowing the universe are not in conflict. In fact, a fruitful dialogue between them produces much fruit about what is true and wondrous about our universe.
Laxton explains (taking #3 above for example), how sometimes we are to read the bible in an historical sense, and other times in an allegorical sense (using symbolic images to convey meaning), that is as stories that employ myths (inspired or revealed truths wrapped in a narrative). These stories are not intended to be taken literally.
This is not Ted Laxton merely wishing things were smoother between science and faith; he uses reputable scientific arguments (from the latest scientific sources), orthodox theological explanations (from the teachings of St. Thomas Aquinas to Pope John Paul II), as well as sound philosophical sources that are in keeping with Catholic doctrine (Bernard Lonergan), to explain to the reader how truly to understand the issues.
In the case of creation, as Laxton explains, the Catholic Church teaches that the creation story found in Genesis (as allegory) tells us merely that God created the cosmos and, therefore, that the cosmos has meaning; that’s it! It does not state that the 13.7 billion years since the initial expansion of the universe (the Big Bang) is wrong and that God directly created everything in 6 days.
Why do so many Catholics still think science and faith are in conflict? It’s not clear – to me at least. Laxton does not go into detail on this question. Perhaps it’s the loud expressions from TV Evangelicals (who DO believe that science and faith are in conflict), that have been bombarding society for over a century? Perhaps it’s the myriad Catholics who stopped learning about their faith after confirmation? I do not know. Yet, for certainly the last half century, official Catholic teaching has underlined that science and faith are NOT in conflict. So, this is a timely book. While A Catholic Teacher’s Guide to Answering Questions about Science and Faith was written for Catholic teachers, as John McCarthy (Jesuit scientist and priest) who wrote the foreword affirms himself, it is for all Catholics. I agree. Learning that the wonders of the universe revealed to us by science these past centuries are compatible with our Catholic faith, I think, will only enrich our faith life!
–Simon Appolloni, Associate Publishing Director