“The doctrine of original sin is the only empirically verifiable doctrine of the Christian faith.” — — Reinhold Neibuhr
Many years ago, I was preaching in Boston and began my homily with something about science. I actually do not remember which of my many homilies about science and/or evolution I spoke, but it is a common topic with me.
A man came up to me at the end of the Mass. “You know, Father, the minute I heard a priest speaking about science, I said to myself: ‘Oh, here we go.’ But you were dead on.” He was a researcher at nearby MIT.
I actually do not understand the conflict between faith and science, especially where it seems some within these disciplines try to disprove the others. I know that there are scientists who try to say that belief in God is naive and Christians who say that belief in science is idolatry, but neither is true. Faith begins where empiricism ends. As a Catholic, I do not believe in faith or reason, but faith and reason.
Science works in the realm of matter, in atoms and molecules and their properties all of which present empirical evidence of their existence and the laws of physics. Faith begins outside of the realm of matter.
If I believe in evolution in any form and Catholics do not believe, specifically, in random evolution, I am open to the possibility that there are realities in the universe that we have not evolved enough to see and/or comprehend.
This is the point of faith — the universe is bigger than our biological ability to perceive it.
We begin to understand such realities when we learn from Socrates to acknowledge what we don’t know and from Jesus when we stand humbly before the source of all wisdom.
Our faith helps us to understand how to live in this universe knowing that all we can perceive is not all that exists. If a scientist were to say to me that my premise is false, then I would tell him/her not to speak to me about evolution because my premise comes from the sciences of evolution. Otherwise, I have to believe that we are currently fully evolved and everything that we see is all that there actually is. I cannot logically accept that premise.
As a Catholic, do I believe in Jesus? Yes. Do I believe in His death and resurrection? Yes. I also believe in science and a growing understanding of…