How Science and Faith Can Live Together
A Catholic Scientist Explains

Sophia Institute Press, Spring 2021


Summary

The idea that science and faith can live together is an issue of vital importance, because it goes against what many see as a vital relationship between the two. Yet, more and more people nowadays claim science and faith cannot really live together. They caricature religious believers as "schizophrenics." On weekdays, they are critical, want proofs, look for arguments, and believe something only if there is no further doubt. Then, on Sundays, they turn a switch, set their understanding to zero and their gaze on infinity; they have no need for proofs, they open their mouths and swallow revealed truths and absurd dogmas. The contrast painted in this parody is clear: religious believers live a "schizophrenic" life. It is the life of science and reason on weekdays and the life of religion and faith on Sundays. Of course, it's a travesty, but a very widely held one nowadays, heavily promoted by media and academia.

Yet, the contrast this parody creates is false. On the one hand, we can't be asked to accept in faith what we can't understand, can we? God gave us brains and expects us to use them to understand even the mysteries of faith, to the extent such understanding is possible. So, faith must have something to do with reason.

On the other hand, we can't be asked to put all faith aside either, can we? Reason itself depends on faith: faith in our senses, faith in our intellect, faith in our memories, and faith in what others have experienced. Besides, there is more to life than reason. Faith can cover issues that science and rationality are inherently incapable of addressing, but those issues are nevertheless entirely real. Seen this way, faith provides answers to questions that would otherwise be unanswerable. So, reason must have something to do with faith.


Table of Contents




1.	CAN SCIENCE AND FAITH LIVE IN HARMONY?
	a.	A Hard Case to Make?
	b.	Our Intellectual Nature
	a.	Our Religious Nature
2.	WHAT IS SCIENCE?
	a.	A Caricature of Science
	b.	A More Realistic View of Science
	c.	Science Needs Reasoning
	d.	What Is the Logic behind Science?
3.	WHAT IS FAITH?
	a.	A Caricature of Faith
	b.	A Better View of Faith
	c.	The Logic behind Faith in God
	d.	Why Faith Needs Reasoning
	e.	The Role of Reason in Faith
4.	WHY SCIENCE NEEDS FAITH
	a.	Science-Alone is a Dead-End
	b.	The Role of Faith in Science
	c.	Assumptions from Heaven
	d.	Faith as the Cradle of Science
	e.	Scientific Knowledge Is Incomplete
5.	WHY FAITH NEEDS SCIENCE
	a.	No Double Truth
	b.	Science Can Do What Faith Cannot Do
6.	SAYING NO TO FAITH IN GOD
	a.	How Can One Reject Faith in God?
	b.	Atheists Come in Various Colors
	c.	A New Kind of Atheism?
	d.	Is It Smart to Reject Faith in God?
7.	CONCLUSION: TWO MAGISTERIA
	a.	Their Distinctive Authorities
	b.	Their Distinctive Territories
	c.	Their Distinctive Questions
	d.	Their Distinctive Members
	e.	Their Distinctive Limitations
	f.	Their Mutual Interactions


Endorsements
 


"Gerard Verschuuren has written an accessible and enjoyable introduction on the nature of the scientific project, the origins of its successes and limitations, and its fundamentally positive relationship with religion."

Karin Oberg
Professor of Astronomy at Harvard University
Leader of the Oberg Astrochemistry Group at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

"This book is an excellent introduction to the philosophy of science. As a scientist, Verschuuren has an excellent capacity to describe science's basic methods as well as its limits. The book also shows how philosophy and religion are actually useful in keeping science a grounded discipline. Religion, and philosophy, especially in the Judeo-Christian tradition, actually make science possible in ways that might surprise many scientists. Find out yourself."

Fr. Jeffrey Langan, PhD, PhD
Senior Fellow of the Principium Institute
Priest of the Prelature of Opus Dei


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