Dr. Stephen M. Barr, professor of physics at the University of Delaware, recently shared his thoughts with me on why science and the Catholic faith are “profoundly in harmony.” His insights on the big bang and theory of evolution are worth reading. In our America magazine interview, he shared the following hope for his readers:
I hope they come away with the realization that the church has never been an enemy of science, but rather a great patron and friend of science, and that scientific discoveries do not undermine the teachings of the Catholic faith, but if looked at aright give them even greater credibility.
If you’ve ever had the slightest interest in the relationship between faith and science, you’ve got to read Barr’s book that explains why modern physics and the big bang support a Judeo-Christian worldview. One of his points in our interview as well as in the book is that atheistic materialism worked better under the old Newtonian system. Unfortunately, the tension between faith and science continues to dominate much of the popular imagination, as recent advances in science have yet to saturate the culture.
Barr is currently working on a book that explains why evolution and Catholicism are compatible. He’s no slouch, having been recognized by Pope Benedict XVI as well as by the secular scientific community for his work. It will be interesting to see how fundamentalist Christians, and the small number of Catholics who still think evolution is bunk, will react to that work.
For those who can’t attend Barr’s lectures on faith and science, or buy his books, he is also a regular and thoughtful contributor to First Things magazine, where a large number of his articles on diverse topics are archived. He’s one of the strongest Catholic voices in the United States right now for the various boundaries and congruences between the realms of matter and spirit.