Pope promoted concord between science and religion

The late Pope John Paul II, while clearly lacking in knowledge of Buddhism, also, it is worthy of note, called early in his papacy for a fruitful concord between science and faith, between the Church and the world.

Generally I’m skeptical of science and religion initiatives, finding them superficial and sterile. “Hey look, I’m a pious Catholic who believes that God could have used evolution to create the world!” “No, look at me, I’m a microbiologist who believes that Jesus rose from the dead!”

But the Pope’s call for cooperation between science and religion bore fruit in the form of a collaboration between the Vatican Observatory and the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, involving a series of conferences, one of which, held in June 1998 in Poland, dealt with relations between the cognitive neurosciences and Christian theology.

This conference resulted in the volume entitled Neuroscience and the Person: Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action, a fascinating, if somewhat overblown and uneven mix of papers from every imaginable perspective. I recommend Dr. Michael Arbib’s essays in this books, entitled “Towards a Neuroscience of the Person” and “Crusoe’s Brain: of Solitude and Society”, although his rather reductionist perspective will not be everyone’s cup of tea.

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