V. Religions in dialogue with science [199 – 201]

I have begun to publish sections and segments of the Popes letter on OUR network of blogs as well as on Linkedin & Quora and will add my comments over time. Pappa francescos 180 page letter is much less about religion than it is about nature and the planet earth. He proposes some fairly radical yet simple and understandable solutions for humankind. It is way past time to start paying attention to what we are all doing or allowing others to do.

199. It cannot be maintained that empirical science
provides a complete explanation of life, the
interplay of all creatures and the whole of reality.
This would be to breach the limits imposed by
its own methodology. If we reason only within
the confines of the latter, little room would be
left for aesthetic sensibility, poetry, or even reason's

140 Ibid., 228: AAS 105 (2013), 1113.

ability to grasp the ultimate meaning and
purpose of things.141 I would add that “religious
classics can prove meaningful in every age; they
have an enduring power to open new horizons…
Is it reasonable and enlightened to dismiss certain
writings simply because they arose in the
context of religious belief?”142 It would be quite
simplistic to think that ethical principles present
themselves purely in the abstract, detached from
any context. Nor does the fact that they may be
couched in religious language detract from their
value in public debate. The ethical principles capable
of being apprehended by reason can always
reappear in different guise and find expression
in a variety of languages, including religious
language.

200. Any technical solution which science
claims to offer will be powerless to solve the serious

141 Cf. Encyclical Letter Lumen Fidei (29 June 2013), 34:
AAS 105 (2013), 577: “Nor is the light of faith, joined to the
truth of love, extraneous to the material world, for love is always
lived out in body and spirit; the light of faith is an incarnate
light radiating from the luminous life of Jesus. It also illumines
the material world, trusts its inherent order, and knows
that it calls us to an ever widening path of harmony and understanding.
The gaze of science thus benefits from faith: faith
encourages the scientist to remain constantly open to reality in
all its inexhaustible richness. Faith awakens the critical sense by
preventing research from being satisfied with its own formulae
and helps it to realize that nature is always greater. By stimulating
wonder before the profound mystery of creation, faith
broadens the horizons of reason to shed greater light on the
world which discloses itself to scientific investigation”.

142 Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium (24 November
2013), 256: AAS 105 (2013), 1123.

problems of our world if humanity loses
its compass, if we lose sight of the great motivations
which make it possible for us to live in harmony,
to make sacrifices and to treat others well.
Believers themselves must constantly feel challenged
to live in a way consonant with their faith
and not to contradict it by their actions. They
need to be encouraged to be ever open to God’s
grace and to draw constantly from their deepest
convictions about love, justice and peace. If
a mistaken understanding of our own principles
has at times led us to justify mistreating nature,
to exercise tyranny over creation, to engage in
war, injustice and acts of violence, we believers
should acknowledge that by so doing we were
not faithful to the treasures of wisdom which we
have been called to protect and preserve. Cultural
limitations in different eras often affected the
perception of these ethical and spiritual treasures,
yet by constantly returning to their sources,
religions will be better equipped to respond to
today’s needs.

201. The majority of people living on our
planet profess to be believers. This should spur
religions to dialogue among themselves for the
sake of protecting nature, defending the poor,
and building networks of respect and fraternity.
Dialogue among the various sciences is likewise
needed, since each can tend to become enclosed
in its own language, while specialization leads to a
certain isolation and the absolutization of its own
field of knowledge. This prevents us from confronting
environmental problems effectively. An
open and respectful dialogue is also needed between
the various ecological movements, among
which ideological conflicts are not infrequently
encountered. The gravity of the ecological crisis
demands that we all look to the common good,
embarking on a path of dialogue which requires
patience, self-discipline and generosity, always
keeping in mind that “realities are greater than
ideas”.143

143 Ibid., 231: p. 1114.

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