ST. BENEDICT — There seems to be a misplaced belief of a conflict between science and faith. This is a false conception built on a foundation of a deficiency and scarcity of truth: an ignorance of history and a lack of understanding of the nature and origin of science, on top of an illiteracy of how God creates and his relationship to creatures.

Our world is complex, intricate and amazing to behold, especially with the discoveries of modern science. Nature can be viewed analogously to a book, with multiple layers and dimensions. One could look at the superficial level involving the text and grammar. A second layer conveys the meaning of the words and phrases. A third penetrates still deeper by revealing the mind and intentions of the author.

Science allows us to understand the first level of the universe, the material matter. However, the deeper layers of nature dealing with meaning and purposes require different tools and different disciplines, such as philosophy and ultimately theology. This is why there must be a link, a dialogue, and collaboration among these complementary fields.

In the pursuit to shed light on this enduring myth, I have come to the realization that one of the fundamental causes of this myth is attributable to a lack of understanding what science is. In doing so, I have discovered what can be characterized as the faith, humility, and beauty of science. Science is the application of human reason to the pursuit of the truth of the natural, visible world using standard methods like the scientific method. It takes a profound faith to believe in the power and validity of the scientific tools in order to practice science. One must believe in the presuppositions that science holds, which science cannot prove by the way. Such assumptions as:

1) the rationality and order of nature; in other words, nature can be investigated and study systematically;

2) the universality of its laws;

3) its reductionist methodology; scientific knowledge is characterized as contingent, not absolute knowledge, constantly changing and being

modified;

4) lastly, the physical universe can be perceived and is open to the human mind.

Science’s humility or limitation is what enables it to be successful as what it does since it restricts the subject of study only to that which is observable and measurable. It simply ignores the complexity of nature and life. Consequently, science has a very small-angle view or tunnel vision of reality, excluding everything that it cannot detect and manipulate. This is essential for its mode of operation because it narrows the field of study, excluding the rest of reality that is too complicated to study or even impossible to detect. Scientific observations are confined to our physical senses, including any technology that may enhance them. Therefore, no scientific theory can ever explain the whole of reality.

The last is the beauty of science: its ability to excel at what it does in terms of studying the physical, measurable components of the universe. What modern science has revealed is a marvelous universe that is immense, a huge playground for human beings one may say, a universe that is finely tuned in terms of its physical laws and constants, and one filled with order and beauty, especially when we look at our Home planet the Earth and all its life forms.

Taken as a whole, we can see why science can never tell us everything about reality or creation just because not everything is observable and capable of being confined to the lab bench or test tubes. Therefore, science can and does point to something that transcends itself; there is more to the universe than what science tells us, things such as the arts, morality, good and evil, beauty, free will, intellect, the nature of being, love and so much more of life.

What to make of the future of the science and faith, like two lost lovers who have reencounter one another after a long separation? It is a bright and joyous union, a marriage made in heaven. Humans are rational creatures endowed with the gift of reason and science is the application of this reason for the pursuit of understanding nature. Faith is also a gift from God, to know and understand that which transcends physical matter.

Science and faith are meant to be united.

The renewal and rekindling of the lost bond between Science & Faith is gaining momentum across the country. The Holy Spirit seems to be injecting a new energy, a fresh breath of air into this movement as modern science continues to reveal the glory, order, and beauty of the universe. The boundary of creation seems to expand larger and wider as our knowledge accrues. Creation is like a tapestry, a painting that we can now see in high resolution, like having “retina resolution,” that for most of human history has been a big blur. What once was a dim and small-angle view of the universe has been transformed into a "panoramic, high definition" image that continues to grow, breaking new barriers and horizon with each new scientific advance. The striking fact about these scientific discoveries is that they do not contradict the Christian Faith but each new discovery seems to corroborate and further strengthen the Christian faith, whether it be the Big Bang theory, the fabric of time and space, and the symmetry and beauty of the subatomic world.

The engagement and dialogue between science and faith will lead to a bright future full of hope and wonder. From this union many fruits will be borne, leading to a revitalization and evangelization of the Christian culture in particular and human society at large. This union is also paramount in order to guard against the destruction and degradation of the human persons from being abused by modern technology. In light of the advancing technology in areas like artificial intelligence, gene therapy, 3D bioprinting, the digital revolution and a whole host of other hot-button issues, it is especially pertinent for the mutual engagement between science and faith.

As the Age of the Digital Revolution is ushered in, we are bracing ourselves for a whole new world with many new technologies that can potentially alleviate the ills of humanity or exacerbate existing problems or introduce new ones. Some of these advances that have far-reaching implications concern the life sciences such as

1) CRISPR gene editing technology, which can rewrite our genetic makeup. The ethics of changing our genetics to cure genetic diseases and the changing of our physical makeup is enormous, not the least of finding where the boundaries should be delineated.

2) Another key advance is regenerative organ therapies using stem cells to grow replacement organs. With the digital revolution, the proper use of technologies like virtual reality, robots and artificial intelligence (AI) and how it will affect human society and the human persons will be daunting. Questions that will need to be answered are the morality of robots and AIs. Do AIs have consciousness and rights? Can they be considered as a “person?” Can AI replace human beings? Connecting all these issues is the underlying and fundamental question that we as human beings need to ask, the perennial question posed when homo sapiens became conscious of themselves: “What is Man?” What constitutes a human person and differentiate him from other living creatures and even robots and AIs. What are our origin and history? What is our destiny? What makes us special? What is the source of our dignity and rights inherent to each human being? If we cannot address these questions, the new era of technology can lead us to a world full of disappointments, hopelessness, and despair. That is why science needs faith even more as we proceed into the future. Science needs a sense of purpose and meaning, a compass to guide and safeguard it. Only faith can provide this solace and security.

With respect to the physical sciences like physics, astronomy, and cosmology, the development and growth in new technology will enable us to understand more of the enigmatic elements of the universe like dark matter and dark energy. Knowing about these hidden elements and whether they exist will contribute to our understanding of the universe’s beginning, its evolution and its final destiny. New advances in space will allow us to understand other planetary systems and gather information on exoplanets and identify whether there are other “Earth” planets out there and whether alien life is present will clarify our understanding of our own planet and its life forms. Are we truly rare and unique in this universe from a scientific standpoint? Direct observations of these celestial objects will provide a clearer answer.

Lastly, the most perplexing question, the everlasting phenomenon and mystery of the whole cosmos that requires both disciplines is a perennial enigma: "What is Man?"

Science can talk about the matter and human body but it cannot even begin to scratch the surface of human phenomena: what is human personality, consciousness, free will, intellect, literature, language, culture, human religions, art, philosophy, music, charity, self-sacrifice, and love?

Faith is abundantly enriched by scientific discoveries pertaining to the universe and life, grounding our faith to the physical world. It deepens one love for the Creator through his marvelous creation; it enlivens our prayers and worship; it gives depth to our understanding of the sacredness, goodness, and sacramentality of creation- to practice science properly is to worship God magnificently.

At the same time, Science needs faith to guide it on the right path of justice, progress and respect for nature and the dignity of Creation and especially of the human persons.

Science needs ethics, a moral compass, one that can come from Faith and that can prevent it from going down blind alleys or worst, from being abused as an instrument of destruction.

We need to celebrate this union, this marriage between science and faith. Each is its own distinct entity with their respective strengths and limitations but they are by nature complementary. For both originate from one author, God, who is the one who creates and also the one who reveals through divine revelation. In the union between the two, science and faith find their completion and fulfillment. One is a natural light from below, whereas the other is a supernatural light from above. Together, science and faith shine their glorious lights on the universe and consequently reveal to us the glory of God’s creation.

Most Christians, myself included, have a relatively advanced "college" level understanding of the physical world, its history and development; but most have an “elementary grade” level when it comes to our Christian understanding of Genesis and creation. It is time for us to become educated in our faith understanding of God as a creator and how he creates the world so that we can better integrate science and faith. In doing so, each can inform and deepen the other. This is a daunting task but one that is truly worth the investment and will help usher in a new golden era for Christianity. Just like what philosophy did for Christianity during the Middle Ages, science, the modern handmaid of theology, will truly broaden and deepen and the Christian faith.