While the scientific world has tended to assert its “self-sufficiency” with a “splendid ivory tower security,” Pope Francis says that today there grows a healthy “unrest” before the possible evolution of science and technology, leading scientists to be more easily open to religious values.
The pope said this today in an address to the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, in which he suggested that the distrust vis-à-vis spiritual and religious values seems today to be replaced by an increasing awareness “of the ever more complex reality of the world and of the human being.”
“We see signs of a certain lack of security and some fear before the possible evolution of a science and technology that, if left to their own devices, could turn their back on the good of individuals and of peoples,” he asserted.
The Holy Father noted how society is influenced by science and technology, and yet, “the world’s peoples with their values and their customs in turn influence science.”
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The pope said that there needs to be more attention paid to the values that form the foundation of the relationships between peoples, society and science. The rapid development of both science and society demands “a wise and responsible commitment on the part of the entire scientific community,” he added.
The splendid ivory tower security of early modern times has given way, in many, to a salutary unrest, for which today’s scientists are more easily open to religious values and can glimpse, beyond the achievements of science, the richness of the spiritual world of peoples and the light of divine transcendence. The scientific community is a part of society, and must not be considered separate and independent; indeed, it is called to serve the human family and its integral development.
The Holy Father listed two concrete fruits of this service to society: in the areas of climate change and nuclear disarmament.
“There is a long way to go towards a development that is both integral and sustainable,” the pope said, mentioning that there are 800 million needy people on the earth. “I believe I can say that there is a lack of will and political determination to halt the arms race and to put an end to wars, in order to pass urgently to sources of renewable energy, programs aimed at ensuring water, food and health for all, and investing for the common good the enormous capital that remains inactive in fiscal paradises.”
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Francis said that the Church doesn’t want scientists to merely follow ethics, but to really bring about, in the words of Paul VI, the “charity of knowledge.”
He concluded with an appeal to all men and women of science, that they might conduct research that truly benefits all:
I would like to stand before you as the advocate of the peoples that receive only rarely and from afar the benefits of vast human knowledge and its achievements, especially in the areas of nutrition, health, education, connectivity, well-being and peace. Allow me to say to you in their name: May your research benefit all, so that the peoples of the earth will be fed, given to drink, healed and educated; may political life and economy of peoples receive from you indications on how to advance with greater certainty towards the common good, for the benefit especially of the poor and those in need, and towards respect for our planet. This is the immense panorama that opens up before men and women of science when they take stock of the expectations of peoples: expectations animated by trusting hope, but also by anxiety and unrest.
These saints were influential astronomers who wed science and faith together