The Role of Religion in a Scientific Age

Richard W. Kropf

Richard W. Kropf

I came across an excellent article by Richard Kropf, a retired priest, author, theologian and Teilhard de Chardin scholar.  Fr. Kropf is also a writer for the Huffington Post and had a thought-provoking article last week.  He talked about how theology and religion are important in providing ultimate meaning of what it means to be human. This message is especially important as Western culture becomes more materialistic and human beings are viewed as economic units rather than images of God.  You can read the entire article here, but set forth below is an excerpt:

This question about the meaning or purpose of it all is where religion, and its cousin, philosophy, still play a vital role. And while we should welcome scientists, like Wilson, who may venture into the realm of philosophy, they should remember they can enjoy the authority they have as scientists only if they stick to the questions of how things are or how they came to be. Otherwise, as Einstein warned, they are straying out of their field of competence. This is especially true when the price of academic excellence, as it has often been noted, is too often knowing more and more about less and less. (Wilson first achieved academic fame by his study of insect behavior, especially among ants!)

* * *

As a result, we should not at all be surprised that most people turn to religion in one form or another in hope that in the end that both the world and our life in it will have made sense. But as we all know, religion has had just as long and much bloodier history of disagreement than has philosophy, especially when it comes trying to define the nature of that ultimate reality that believers call “God”.

This is the reason why, as a theologian, I have been continually been drawn back to the views of not just another theologian, but instead to those of the psychiatrist, and Holocaust survivor, Viktor Frankl. It was Frankl who wrote that “Religion is the search for ultimate meaning” and that “Faith is trust in ultimate meaning” — this in the face of what was one of the greatest horrors of human insanity in modern times.

If Frankl was correct, and I believe he was, then it seems to me that while we should depend on science to tell us how we came to be, and maybe look to philosophy to ask who or even what we are, that in the end, it is only religion or faith that can give us a sense of trust or assurance that there is a final or ultimate meaning or purpose — even if theologians still disagree on how to best describe what this ultimate reality really is.

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About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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5 Responses to The Role of Religion in a Scientific Age

  1. thenoveilst says:

    It is why the Vedas have been brought into existence. Vast, intricate, mystical and diverse, as they are, it then requires a maha-bhagavat guru of the highest order to extract the essence from them. Fortunate was I, to have met such a personality.

  2. freescot says:

    People are always explaining things to me and, in a way, they are all scientists. I listen and know that I was once fascinated, enthralled by it all. But now I just enjoy and rejoice in people and in nature and in life: that’s more than enough. Science is for young minds and that is wonderful but I need every breathing minute to become open to that ultimate reality.

  3. As for science and religion, I am keeping them both.

  4. I read Victor Frankl many years ago, and what still resonates with me is this quotation….’A person can bear any suffering if it has meaning’.

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