I’d like to draw your attention to the latest edition (August 2009) of Ethics and Medics, the publication of The National Catholic Bioethics Center on Health Care and the Life Sciences. Working in a medical center for over 23 years, I take keen interest in ethics in medical science and practice.
Edward Fulton, Ph.D., wrote an article in the August edition entitled, “Faith in Science, Reason in Religion” in which he turns on its head the popular understanding of faith and reason in both science and religion.
His essential point as I see it is that the physical sciences are essentially founded on faith in that they accept as premises that which is not proved by reason. From those foundations it reasons to conclusions; yet as Dr. Fulton asserts, those conclusions rest upon assertions of faith, if you will. (He defines faith as “the willingness to accept what has not been shown to be true by reason.”)
In contrast, religion is founded on reason, from which we assent to supernatural doctrine because such assent is reasonable. He points out that the existence of God is something that can be known from human reason alone. Philosophers throughout the ages have done so. It is from the reasonableness of God’s existence and his attributes that we make our profession of faith. It would be difficult to accept the truths of revelation if we could not know by means of reason the fundamental attributes and presence of God the Creator.
I quote his last paragraph: “Thus science and religion, as these are typically caricatured, turn out to be their opposites. Religion begins with certain truths about God that can be known by reason, and to this it adds articles of faith. Science begins with certain beliefs that cannot be known by reason, and to these it adds the discoveries of reason. Science has a dogmatic foundation. Religion does not.”
By the way, there is another article in the August edition on stem cell research well worth your time.