Religion at its best should respect and foster science, in its methods and content, because all knowledge and truth derive from the one God. (Particularly instructive on this point is Pope John Paul II’s document “Faith and Reason.”)
When applied to evolution, the question of the relationship between faith and reason boils down to this: Faith tells us that God is the Creator; there is no source of life or existence outside of him. But faith also leaves room for a lot of details we don’t know about exactly how God brings about, on the natural level, the existence of various forms of life. Faith is not science and should not try to be. Evolution is indeed a scientific theory. Therefore it should stand or fall on its own merits. If the theory can rally persuasive arguments, then let them be rallied and let them be taught. But let the teaching of those arguments demonstrate both their strengths and weaknesses.
Faith has no problem with that. Where faith has a problem is when science transgresses its limits and pretends to be dogma, asking us to trust some god-like authority and shut down our critical thinking. Science transgresses its limits when, in attempting to explain the workings of the natural order, it dogmatically dismisses the supernatural order. (Notice, in the understanding outlined above, faith does no such thing to science. On the contrary, faith steps back and asks science to do its proper role according to its own methodology. Faith just asks the same respectful favor in return.) Evolution can be a conclusion of science. Godless evolution is more than science can assert.
Finally, on the question of what should be done in schools, the parents of the students should have an informed, active, and decisive role in the shaping of the curriculum. Schools are not supposed to replace parents; they are supposed to assist them. The primary educators of their children are the parents themselves.
Frank Pavone | Aug 24, 2011 1:55 PM