The idea of Natural Selection presented by Darwin, whereas a species or organism adapts to its environment over a long period of time, can be used to explain the fundamental problems inherent in modern society and the belief systems of some organizations. More specifically, the adaptation of Religion over the years, along with its counter-part, Science, to better survive in a world of constant questioning. For my revelation, I have decided to explore this connection, and explain how I understand each form of belief has adapted to survive in modern society.
The primary support for my endeavor comes from the article How To Teach Science to the Pope, by Michael Mason. Growing up in the last decade, the misconception that religious authority disapproved of Science was still accepted to an extent, especially after being taught the conservative methods of the Catholic Church and their response to scientific reasoning in the past. A quick example being the prosecution of Galileo Galilei during the 1600's; after defending the theory of heliocentrism as defined by Copernicus and Galileo's own inquiry, the Church condemned any such notions and subjected him to house arrest.
However, the strict code of belief owned by the Church has diminished over the years. In 1936, the Vatican established the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, an institution designated to the research and understanding of Science. According to Brother Guy Consolmagno, “If you think the universe is fundamentally good and that it’s an expression of a good God, then studying how the universe works is a way of becoming intimate with the Creator. It’s a kind of worship. And that’s been a big motivation for doing any kind of science.” The main focus of the science studied is to better understand God and his mysterious ways, but I propose a different, more preposterous reason.
According to Darwin, an organism must adapt and survive to its environment in order to survive. Is it not suiting to say the Church has done just this in changing their belief system and accepting science? In a message from Pope John Paul to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, he states: “During this plenary session, you are undertaking a “reflection on science at the dawn of the third millennium,” starting with the identification of the principal problems created by the sciences and which affect humanity’s future. With this step you point the way to solutions which will be beneficial to the whole human community” (Appleman 527). The acceptance of Science and the Churches new fervor to be part of its advancement is a relatively strong sign that the Church has started to change on behalf of its environment.
Belonging to the Academy are scientists and religious scholars, all pursuant of scientific truth and its implications on religious matters. One of the people working here, Richard Dawkins, is known as an extreme Atheist, and has written a book called The God Delusion. This video provides a short excerpt from the book on Dawkins theory behind religion:
Evolution and the scientific theory behind it might answer a few questions about our origin, but the big questions, like "Why are we here?, Is there more to life?, and What created it all?" can only be speculated on. In this sense, religion, along with science, is still a necessesity. Both compete to provide answers to questions, yet neither can be 100% on those above. It is here that one must be willing to make acceptions in belief and the sources of those beliefs.
For a list of the readings that have helped lead me to this conclusion, go here.
Appleman, Philip, ed. Darwin. 3rd ed. New York: W.W.Norton, 2001
"God Delusion by Richard Dawkins - Science vs. Religion." Youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rte3kfzNXPg
Mason, Michael. "How to Teach Science to the Pope." Discover Magazine. August 18, 2008.http://discovermagazine.com/2008/sep/18-how-to-teach-science-to-the-pope