It’s almost become a cliche’ in the Catholic world – faith and reason, fides et ratio. The two are not in conflict. To the contrary, it is often said, faith and reason must go together. For faith without reason leads to tyranny of religion, and reason without faith leads to nihilism. This is most certainly true, and is something that we should never tire of saying. Although finding new and refreshing ways to say it is always beneficial.
Being one who is often late to the conversation, I just read the much discussed 2005 New York Times article by Cardinal Schönborn (pictured above), and the subsequent exchange that took place in FIRST THINGS between the good Cardinal and Stephen Barr. The argument of Cardinal Schönborn can be summed up by fides et ratio. All he seems to be saying is that science has it limits (i.e. it can’t hypothesize about a first cause) and that science can never (or will never) contradict faith. His New York Times article is, by his own admission, a bit inadequate. The Cardinal’s argument is from a philosophical viewpoint, but you don’t get that in the first reading of the article. In his rebuttal in FIRST THINGS, Cardinal Schönborn makes it clear that his argument is not theological or scientific as Barr supposes. You can read the exchange for yourself, but in the end I don’t think the two are in disagreement.
The New York Times article, here.
Stephen Barr’s response in FIRST THINGS, here.
Cardinal Schönborn’s rebuttal to Stephen Barr, here.
Stephen Barr’s opinion column in FIRST THINGS, acting as a further rebuttal to Cardinal Schönborn, here.