Covers key foundational concepts

MAYO Prayer


Ask Jesus into your life

Now is the time to say to Jesus, “Lord, I have let myself be deceived; in a thousand ways I have shunned your love, yet here I am once more, to renew my covenant with you. I need you. Save me once again, Lord, take me once more into your redeeming embrace” (Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis)


Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction. (Deus Caritas Est, pope Benedict XVI)

And so just ask him into your life

A6 The supposed conflict between Science and Catholicism

There is no conflict between science and religion. Historically this conflict really developed out of the Enlightenment which developed in the late 1600s and 1700s to emphasise the individual and reason against tradition. Many Enlightenment thinkers were anti-Catholic. Many writers were creating myths or at best twisting truths to make Christianity look bad.  The scientist John William Draper and the writer Andrew Dickson White were the most influential exponents of the conflict thesis between religion and science in the 1800s. Draper wrote a History of the Conflict between Religion and Science (1874) and White wrote A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896). Modern historians have discredited both books. In fact, Catholicism has encouraged science through the centuries. Fr Tomas William LC explains this well in Myth No.3: Religion Is Opposed to Science:

History shows that the natural sciences grew out of Christian culture. As the sociologist Rodney Stark has so convincingly shown (See especially For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch-Hunts, and the End of Slavery), science was "still-born" in the great civilizations of the ancient world, except in Christian civilization.

Far from being an obstacle to science, Christian soil was the necessary humus where science took root.

Examples of this fertile ground can be seen in the number of priest scientists such as Fr Georges Lemaitre.

A5 Galileo

Galileo's (1564-1642) championing of heliocentrism (the Sun at the center of the Galaxy) was controversial within his lifetime, a time when most subscribed to geocentrism (the Earth at the center of the Universe). He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax (the apparent change in position of the stars due to orbiting the sun). He also met with religious opposition based on the current scientific understanding of his time which agreed with the bible teaching the sun going around the earth. 

It is a complex topic and so some points about attitudes at the time are important. The Catholic Church had no problem with geocentrism provided the scientific proof can be shown. For instance at the time Cardinal Baronius said that the bible "is intended to teach us how to go to heaven, not how the heavens go." Cardinal Bellarmine was prepared to reinterpret scripture if proof can be shown. At the crucial trial of Galileo about teaching heresy, Galileo claimed three proofs for geocentrism all of which don't prove geocentrism. Tides are due primarily to the moon. Sun spots can be explained with the rotation of the sun, not that the earth goes around the sun. The last point of the phases of venus is a more serious point but not sufficient on its own. What brought conclusive proof was stellar aberration by James Bradley in 1729 which eventually led to the Church formally lifting its ban on Galileo’s books in 1758. That's a long time after 1615.

There are many inaccuracies about Galileo's trial. He did not stamp his feet and cry out, "But it does move." He was submissive throughout the trial. He was not tortured. His house arrest for the last nine years of his life which were lived in a palace where he could freely work on his research provided he did not teach about geocentrism. He completed two more works during this time. 

So it appears Galileo was wrong with his evidence. If Galileo had pulled his head in earlier there would have been no problem, ie if he hadn't said he had proof for geocentrism.

In a sense the condemnation of Galileo was providential. It proved for all time that fallible bodies like the Roman Congregation ought not to dub a scientific theory heretical, and it prevented them from making a similar mistake for over three centuries. It proved also that whenever there is apparent contradiction between the truths of science and the truths of faith, either the scientist is wrong in advancing a mere hypothesis as a fact, or that the theologian errs in mistaking his personal opinions for the teaching of the Gospel.
Pastor concludes his brief but able study of the case with the wise words: There has been no second Galileo case (History of the Popes. Vol. XXIX., p. 62).

Pope John Paul II on behalf of the Catholic Church has publically apologised for the Galileo affair in 1992. The Galileo affair is a crucial argument for justifying the conflict between science and religion. Such a conflict is absurd when the evidence is examined. Anyone that uses such an argument should be explained the facts and invited personally to accept the official apology of the Church. 

One final point from this era is that Galileo was not the only scientist of his day. 26 of the 35 Jesuit scientists who have lunar moons named after them were alive during the life of Galileo.