In his op-ed piece last Sunday in USA Today, Edward O. Wilson makes a sweeping pronouncement: "The two world views--science-based explanations and faith-based religion--cannot be reconciled." I agree: one cannot reconcile them, because they do not need to be reconciled. They do not need to be reconciled, because they do not conflict. They do not conflict, because no assertion made by one contradicts any assertion made by the other. I am speaking of my own "faith-based religion", Catholicism. If there were any accepted science-based explanation that conflicted with what my Church teaches, I think I would have noticed it at some point during my thirty years as a research scientist. Prof. Wilson's pronouncement comes out of the blue. There is nothing in the rest of his op-ed piece--or indeed in his other writings--that backs it up. Is it too much to expect a scientist to stick to facts, while extolling the virtues of sticking to facts?
(Click here to email the author about this item. Stephen Barr is a theoretical particle physicist at the Bartol Research Institute of the University of Delaware, and a member of the editorial board of FIRST THINGS.)
In addition to which:
The Vatican has issued firm directives about homosexuality and the priesthood. Influential Catholic voices say the instruction can be ignored with impunity. Is the pontificate of Benedict headed for a crisis of authority? These are questions addressed by Richard John Neuhaus in the February issue. In the same issue, Timothy George provides a surprising perspective on contemporary evangelicalism, and Avery Cardinal Dulles explains why the pope likes some parts of Vatican II more than others. Also: Jews and the "religious right," the brilliant errors of Stanley Hauerwas, and Robert P. George on why private acts are not beyond the law. To subscribe to FIRST THINGS, click here.