Rowan on Wisdom, Science, and Faith  

Posted by Joe Rawls in

When he isn't getting his knickers in a twist over gay bishops, the Archbishop of Canterbury is actually a pretty fair theologian. Evidence of this can be found in a recent sermon delivered at a service honoring the 350th anniversary of the British Royal Society, held at St Paul's Cathedral in London. Alluding to the fact that many of the Society's founders were practicing Christians as well as practicing scientists, +++Rowan reminds us that science and faith do not exist in watertight compartments.


...The house of wisdom is a house of many dimensions; seven pillars, not merely four walls. It is upheld by a variety of questionings; the so-called scientific worldview is itself a complex pattern of deeply diverse disciplines, very resistant to any idea of global reductionism--to the conclusion that there is one and only one kind of basic question...The wisdom celebrated here is something indeed that could never fully be dealt with by any one question or any one style of questioning...

...Science needs to remain human in that sense, to be self-aware of itself as human science, aware of incompleteness, aware of the joy of non-fulfillment. And at that level at least, science is bound to be operating with an image of humanity itself as a life form attuned to truth and to growth. Metaphysics, perhaps, or even worse, faith; and yet it's hard to see how the real life of the scientific enterprise can be sustained without that image of what is properly and joyfully and fulfillingly human. Recognized or not, the resonance of this with the life of faith is worth noting. Faith, our Christian faith, presupposes that we are indeed as human beings attuned to truth and to growth, made by a God whose love has designed us for joy, and discovering that this directedness towards joy mysteriously comes alive when we look into the living truth, the living wisdom, of the face of a Christ who drives us back again and again to question ourselves so that we stay alive.

A faith which can discover joy in penitence, self-questioning and growth is a faith which can reasonably (I use the word with forethought) hold out its hand to a science that is determined to be human. That kind of faith and that kind of science joined hands 350 years ago; and while at times the grip has somewhat slackened in the intervening period, I dare to hope in the name of eternal wisdom that we may yet join again in our search for the joys of being human, the joys of being wrong, the manifold wisdom in which we find life.

This entry was posted on Monday, June 21, 2010 at Monday, June 21, 2010 and is filed under . You can follow any responses to this entry through the comments feed .


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