Vision 20/20: Finding common ground in science and faith

Anne Marie Amacher
Diego Martinez, left, and Louis Granato, both of St. Anthony Parish in Davenport, talk with Father James Kurzynski before his talk on secularism, atheism and scientism June 6.

By Lindsay Steele
The Catholic Messenger

When Father James Kurzynski speaks with scientists from NASA and other organizations for his Vatican Observator blog, “The Catholic Astronomer,” the scientists are often pleasantly surprised that a priest would be interested in their work.

He says a narrative exists in today’s society that “faith and science are these irreconcilable foes that are tangled in this battle to the death and therefore we have to hate scientists and scientists have to hate us.” People have a common misconception that the church is against science, when in reality, the church embraces the idea that faith and science work hand in hand. What the church rejects is scientism — the idea that science alone is the answer to all questions, he says.

Fr. Kurzynski, a science-loving priest from Wisconsin, spoke on “Evangelizing in an age of secularism, atheism and scientism” during a workshop at the Vision 20/20 Convocation in June at St. Ambrose University in Davenport.


During his presentation, Fr. Kurzynski explained how Catholics can best address questions of faith and science. He explained how issues not dealing with faith and science have fueled a combative emotionalism that makes dialogue between these disciplines challenging at times. He discussed the Catholic tradition’s openness to science and how the nature of science points to a position of neutrality toward faith, not an irreconcilable battle between atheist and believer.

He observes that sometimes the faithful think about science and faith through an atheistic lens without realizing it. Often, this is seen in the common mindset that faith is a means by which to explain the unexplained. Science and faith shouldn’t be about “trying to find the God among the godless,” but in seeing God’s hand in creation. “We have a God who wants to be known … through his creation,” Fr. Kurzynski said. In this sense, science and increased understanding of creation becomes less threatening to faith tradition — not more.

This presentation on Evangelizing in an age of secularism, atheism and scientism is available online via podcast at https://diocese-of-davenport.simplecast. com.

A video recording can be found at y5xjtocw. Most of the presentations from the Vision 20/20 Convocation are available for viewing and/or listening. Topics include: sharing faith stories; reaching out to families; evangelizing youths and young adults; evangelizing in smaller parishes; evangelizing the ‘churched’; hospitality; immigrant voices; and church teaching on sexuality and sexual identity.

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