In the United States, Science and Faith Go Hand in Hand
In the United States, internationally renowned Catholic scientists are uniting their efforts to defend the harmony between faith and reason. It is a beautiful initiative that brings hope in an increasingly secularized society.
Harvard’s reputation is well established. Founded in 1636, Harvard is part of the Ivy League, which brings together eight of the oldest universities in the United States.
In the so-called Shanghai ranking, it appears in first place, and by comparison, the first French university, Paris-Saclay, is only in the 14th position.
In this context, the latest speech by Karin Öberg, professor of astronomy and director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University, has far from gone unnoticed in the scientific sphere.
Along with other no less prestigious scientists, the researcher spoke on January 13, 2023, at the opening of the Wonder Conference, an initiative launched by Word on Fire, an organization that brings together several Catholic media across the Atlantic each year for an apologetic and missionary purpose.
A convert from atheism to Catholicism herself, Karin Öberg recalled that faith in God, far from being an obstacle to scientific research, is useful for the scientific process because of the “sure foundation” that belief in a Creator provides.
“I think we should convince ourselves that having a sound philosophy and a true religion is likely to facilitate the process leading to new scientific discoveries, and not the opposite,” she said, illustrating thus this role of “negative direction” – to use Maritain’s expression – that is to say of safeguard, that faith plays in relation to science.
Referring to the discoveries of Fr. Georges Lemaître – the distant father of the theory known as the Big Bang – Karin Öberg adds: “I cannot help but wonder if …the reason that he had the idea, … had something to do with his Catholicism. I mean, he already knew, by faith, that the universe had a beginning in time. … And I can’t help by wonder that that made it easier for him to accept this idea . . . [and] perhaps there’s a reason why many atheist were very concerned about the Big Bang Theory as it was being presented.”
For the Harvard professor, the wonders we see in the universe “should draw us out of ourselves” and push us to look out “not just towards the truths they reveal, but also towards the source of all truths and the ultimate Creator of all things.. . . we live in a universe that ‘has a beginning, a middle, and an end that is unfolding over time.’”
The Wonder Conference, which has been held for several years, was born from the observation made by many Catholics of the growth of atheism in the United States: “A perceived incompatibility between faith and science has led to a rise in the number of religiously unaffiliated people. This perception runs counter to the experience of the Catholic tradition, which conveys the beautiful harmony between faith and science,” the website for the conference states.