Wednesday, 22 October 2003

Rome (Fides Service) – “Miracles in the Causes of Saints: Meeting of Science and Faith” was the theme of a Symposium held recently at the Pontifical Regina Apostolorum College in Rome. Mgr Jose Luis Gutierrez a relator at the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, who examines cases of miracles, was one of the speakers. Fides asked Mgr Gutierrez about his work.

Mgr. Gutierrez are God and miracles only for believers?
No, miracles are perceptible to our senses and so anyone, not only a believer, can perceive the fact and conclude that according to the laws of matter it cannot be explained. If this person opens to the transcendent or admits at least the possible existence of a Superior Being, the God in whom we Christian believe, then with faith, or at least the rudiments of faith, he will conclude that this unexplainable fact must be attributed to God.

Is it a contradiction for Science to search for God?
No. In fact I think that the more science searches the more it finds traces of God and gradually probing deeper it realises the abyss of human ignorance, the complexity of the universe which even the greatest scientists cannot explain even in part. Faced with this infinite panorama it appears clearly that God the Creator of the universe has truly made all things and that everything he created “is very good”. The further we probe the more complex God’s work reveals itself to be and this should be easy to recognise unless the scientist closes himself in his shell and goes no further than what he is able to perceive through senses and reason.

And then?
Belief in God is not in conflict with science, it is not a question of science or faith one or the other. I think we must start with the individual person, because the person engages in science and the person has faith. To a certain point a person engages in science and research using the laws of matter to explain what he sees. But when this person puts himself before God he does so with an attitude of faith, and we cannot say that this is in conflict with science. I would say instead that if a person is sincerely in search of the truth then science leads to God. There is no contradiction.

What can science say about facts which go beyond known natural laws?
I return to the concept that the scientist is a person. How far can he go with science when faced with facts which go beyond known natural laws? Science can tells us that we have reached a limit, a point which science a cannot explain, something which for science is incomprehensible. Not, we do not know today but perhaps tomorrow but at least today there would seem to be no explanation. This person, this scientist, having seen the point of arrival, may then open to God because the phenomenon goes beyond what science declares. Therefore at a certain point, the study of science will continue but with an attitude of faith, more or less great, more or less complete.

Science and ethics, what principle values must be considered?
All the values of science are good, every scientific acquisition is good for humanity. It is of course important for everything to remain within the proper limits. Science is knowledge of a series of mechanisms which can be used for good or for evil and to make good or evil use of knowledge is a question of ethics. Values supply us with an instrument which, if properly used, will be a source of good, but wrongly used then it loses all its utility. Here I would add that science has no absolute values, since it is the activity of the person. For example if a family man devotes all his time to science and has no time for his family, his duties as a parent, for his friends, then this person is closed in a corner, completely absorbed in science which annuls everything else. A scientist must find the right balance between studies and other activities. This balance will enable the person to engage in authentic scientific research which rather than leading away from God, leads to God who is ever more clearly perceived. AP (Fides Service 21/10/2003 EM lines 60 Words: 871)