Four speakers from different religions delivered presentations at the University on the dialogue between science and religion. The panel was moderated by Professor Ignacio Silva of the University of Oxford, as part of the seminar «Science and Religion» organized by the Institute of Philosophy.
Rabbi Abraham Skorka, the rector of the Latin American Rabbinical Seminary, acknowledged that from a young age, he «sought God in equations» and expressed his views as a man of faith, having studied Chemistry and Exact Sciences. The Rabbi mentioned Nathan Aviezer, who draws parallels between facts explaining religion and science that are irreversible, such as «there was a beginning.»
Skorka explained that scientific claims are tested in the laboratory, while claims of faith are based on faith and are not related to the laboratory. He emphasized that faith is not just in God but also in values, stating, «Non-religious people do not kill because it doesn’t seem right to them.» When science and religion converge, he chose the Hebrew word «besar» (to kiss).
He also considered that when someone tries to do science, they can deviate from logical structure and reach a point where they wonder «what is this.» He concluded by emphasizing that deep involvement in science should always be accompanied by humility, which is the key to avoiding arrogance.
Gustavo Bize, Imam of the Yerrâhî Islamic Association of Buenos Aires, titled his presentation «Islam and Knowledge: An Outline of Quranic Epistemology and Its Projection Over Time.» Bize, who holds a degree in exact sciences and is an academic at the University of 3 de Febrero, explained that the convergence of science and religion is unthinkable in Islam. He noted that his religion was born with a vocation for knowledge, stating, «The expression ‘endowed with intellect’ is present in several parts of the Quran.» The Quran also calls on people to contemplate nature and their creator within it. He also pointed out that Arabic was the language of scientists between the 9th and 13th centuries, and figures like Bacon and Maimonides studied and wrote in Arabic.
For Bize, what matters in the relationship between science and religion is the inner disposition regarding the truth.
«The History of Science and Religion in Protestantism: Breaking Vanguard Myths» was the title of Pastor Jerónimo Granados’s presentation, in which he explained that the approach to the debate should be analyzed in each branch of Protestantism. «The history of Protestantism itself does not present resonant scientific figures until the Enlightenment and Romanticism,» he recalled, presenting the figure of Friedrich Schleimeiher, who attempted to bring the world of scientific ideas closer to the world of Christianity. As Granados clarified, Schleimeiher’s effort was significant because discussions on theology continued within the Protestant world. However, from that moment on, biblical hermeneutics, or the scientific study of the Bible, began to be explored. According to Granados, the effort of Schleimeiher was substantial because it meant that scientific ideas could serve theology.
Miguel de Asúa, a Catholic professor, spoke on «Evolution and Christianity: The View of the Catholic Church.» De Asúa began by quoting Pius XII, who clarified that he did not forbid the discussion of the doctrine of evolution among learned men, and John Paul II, who acknowledged that «the theory of evolution is more than a hypothesis.» Furthermore, de Asúa considered the congress on the topic organized in 2009 at the Gregorian University, in conjunction with the Pontifical Council for Culture, as a significant milestone and gesture, although he regretted that many Catholics continue to deny the possibility of evolution.
Some authors, de Asúa considered, view evolution as evidence of the non-existence of God, and there are creationists who would be the opposite. The academic’s proposal is to bridge the gap between evolution and religion.
Towards the end of the meeting, there was a moment for questions and debate.