As a 19th-century Augustinian friar, Gregor Mendel was expected to pursue his groundbreaking genetics research with the same passion he reserved for his religious studies.
Combining those disciplines isn’t popular today. Villanova University, an Augustinian Roman Catholic college, is trying to change that by highlighting Mendel’s work.
The school will declare the “Year of Mendel” starting this fall and is sponsoring an exhibit on his work at the Academy of Natural Sciences in Philadelphia. The effort complements an award Villanova has given since 1928, the Mendel Medal, to scientists who balance religious conviction and scientific progress.
The Catholic Church may be responsible for much of the science we have today. Off the top of my head, she’s long sponsored research into: astronomy. The Church’s support for astronomical research goes back centuries, Gallileo was working for the Pope, for example. Even today, the Vatican sponsors “The Pope Scope,” which at one point was the second largest telescope in the world, if it’s not still. The Big Bang Theory was developed by a Catholic priest in the 1920s and was rejected by secularist scientists until the 1960s. Additionally, geology was so dominated by Catholic priests that it was referred to as the Jesuit science. There’s many more examples, but I’m very tired today. And, as we see above, the Father of Genetics was a Catholic priest.
This I didn’t know:
Catholics are more likely than other Americans to believe in evolution. A survey conducted last year by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life found 58 percent of Catholics believed in evolution compared with 48 percent for the nation as a whole.
The Church has long cast a favorable look upon evolution. It’s the more fundamentalist Churches that tend to reject it. The Church and Evolutionism come into conflict only when Evolutionists try to portray evolution as a disproof of the existence of God or try to cast a solely material origin on human life and consciousness.
Influential Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, who has been speaking about evolution and faith, has affirmed that the Catholic Church rejects creationism. In a 2007 speech in New York, he said that “the first page of the Bible is not a cosmological treatise about the coming to be of the world in six days.” He also said that “the Catholic faith can accept” the possibility that God uses evolution as a tool. But he said science alone cannot explain the origins of the universe.
In the strictest sense, I don’t think the Church completely denounces creationism and allows her members to believe in it, but encourages them not to. (But, hey, I could be wrong.)
This sort of award, though, is beneficial to show people that science and religion need not be at odds if they both keep their eyes on their true: a search for the truth. Religion cannot speak to scientific truth, and the reverse is true as well. If both sides stick to their areas of expertise, this false and harmful war between science and religion can come to an end, and all Truth can be more fully accepted.