February 10, 2006

Science no threat to faith, Pope says

By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Science made such rapid progress
in the 20th century that people may sometimes be confused about
how the Christian faith can still be compatible with it, Pope
Benedict said on Friday.

But science and religion are not opposed to each other and
Christians should not be afraid to try to understand how they
compliment each other in explaining the mystery of life on
Earth, he told the Vatican's doctrinal department.

The Pope made his comments at a time of heated debate,
mostly in the United States, about intelligent design arguments
challenging evolution. A Pennsylvania court ruled in December
that intelligent design could not be taught as science in

"The Church joyfully accepts the real conquests of human
knowledge and recognizes that spreading the Gospel also means
really taking charge of the prospects and the challenges that
modern knowledge unlocks," he said.

The dialogue between religion and science would actually
help the faithful see "the logic of faith in God," said the
Pope, speaking to members of the Congregation for the Doctrine
of the Faith.

He headed this Vatican department for nearly 25 years until
his election last April.

Scientific discoveries sometimes came so rapidly "that it
becomes very complicated to recognize how they are compatible
with the truth revealed by God about man and the world," said
the German-born Pontiff, 78.

The Church, however, should not fear the challenge of
reconciling faith and reason because God was "in fact, the Lord
of all creation and all history."

The intelligent design debate in the United States has
pitted scientists -- who are sometimes also agnostics --
against believers who claim that science can prove some life
forms are so complex that they must have had a supernatural

ID supporters have been trying to get it taught as science
in biology classes alongside Darwin's theory of evolution,
which some Christian conservatives oppose. Its opponents
rejected this as having no scientific basis at all.

(Additional reporting by Tom Heneghan in Paris)