In Advent, the Preacher to the Papal household, Pere Raniero Cantalemessa, gave a series of three homilies on Christian responses to the challenges of the new millenium. The following is taken from his first:
In this first meditation we will examine scientism. To understand what is meant by this term we can begin with the description made of it by John Paul II: “Another danger is scientism; this philosophic conception refuses in fact to admit as valid ways of knowing different from those that are proper to the positive sciences, relegating to the confines of mere imagination either religious conscience and theology, or ethical and aesthetic learning.” We can summarize the main texts of this current of thought thus:
First thesis. Science, and in particular cosmology, physics and biology, are the only objective and serious ways of knowing reality. “Modern societies are built upon science. They owe it their wealth, their power, and the certitude that tomorrow far greater wealth and power still will be ours if we so wish …. Armed with all the powers, enjoying all the riches they owe to science, our societies are still trying to live by and to teach systems of values already blasted at the roots by science itself.”
Second thesis. This way of knowing is incompatible with faith that is based on assumptions which are neither demonstrable or falsifiable. In this line the militant atheist R. Dawkins goes so far as to define as “illiterate” those scientists who profess themselves believers, forgetting how many scientists, much more famous than he, have declared themselves and continue to declare themselves believers.
Third thesis. Science has demonstrated the falsehood, or at least the lack of necessity of the theory of God. It is the affirmation which has been greatly highlighted by the world’s media in past months, because of an affirmation of English astro-physicist Stephen Hawking. The latter, as opposed to what he had written previously in his last book “The Grand Design,” maintains that the knowledge attained by physics now renders useless belief in a creative divinity of the universe: “Spontaneous creation is the reason why something exists.”
Fourth thesis. Almost the totality, or at least the great majority of scientists are atheists. This is the affirmation of militant scientific atheism which has in Richard Dawkins, the author of the book God’s Delusion, its most active propagator.
All these thesis reveal themselves to be false, not on the basis of a priori reasoning or of theological arguments or arguments of faith, but from the analysis itself of the results of science and of the opinions of many among the most illustrious scientists of the past and present. A scientist of the caliber of Max Planck, founder of the quantum theory, says of science, what Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Pascal, Kierkegaard and others affirmed of reason: “Science leads to a point beyond which it can no longer guide.”
See here for the rest. Tomorrow and the next day, I’ll post excerpts from and links to the other two.