When thinking about the relationship between religion, specifically the Roman Catholic church, and science, our minds reminisce the Galileo times. Known to have been arrested and publically destroyed by the Catholic Church for contradicting doctrine which stated Earth was the center of the universe, Galileo in many aspects was the first to create a separation in the belief of the church and the facts of science.
In the Vatican’s View of Evolution: The Story of Two Popes by Doug Linder, readers are shown a different aspect of the Catholic Church. Here, we are shown the beliefs of two Popes, Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II. As we read this piece, we can come to conclude that the opinion of the Catholic Church, represented by the Pope, changes over time in adaptation to the social acceptance of science. In other words, the relationship between religion and science becomes greater as time goes by.
When Pope Pius XII mentioned that human flesh, our physical bodies, could have been a result of human evolution but “Souls are immediately created by God,” the topic of evolution had once again arouse to the spotlight as the main difference between religion and science. Pope Pius approach was distinct in that he considered evolution a possibility, something that had been denied by past popes, but took a stance for religion by talking about something that, to this day, science will never be able to prove; that is the existence of a soul. Science took the facts and religion stuck to the supernatural, a win for both sides.
In 1996, however, Pope John Paul II placed an end to the evolutionary battle by stating that both the church and science could benefit from each other, thus creating an opportunity for scientist to work along the church. Also, Pope John Paul II stated that “truth cannot contradict truth,” therefore the church had to work in correcting the errors of its past, such as was the case with Galileo.
Due to the comments of both Pope Pius XII and Pope John Paul II, critics, such as Richard Dawkins, stated that there is absolutely no room for both religion and science to co-exist. Dawkins wrote an essay by the name of “you can’t have it both ways,” in which he explained that God had absolutely no involvement in the process of evolution, thus God did not “intervene” to give humans a soul.
When making reference to the Big Bang Theory, as mentioned in the piece by Linder, does the Catholic church have the right to say that it was a result of the “let there be light” script from the Bible? Is it fair to say that hence creation took place, God is real, as stated by Pope Pius XII? Can science work alongside the church to prove/disprove the events of the Bible? What can we infer will occur if this relationship between the church and the scientific community is strengthened? Can the Bible ultimately hold historical answers related to evolution?