However, when I came back to the Church, I didn't put my brain into cold storage. Sometimes, when the exact explanations for the teachings of the Church are unclear to me, I have to trust that the Bride of Christ has been entrusted with the fullness of the Truth, and that the Holy Spirit guarantees she is free from error. That trust is founded on the Word of God himself, and what he promised: it isn't a blind faith. And the truths that I accept through faith are not (and could not be) in conflict with reason.
Lots of people still make the mistake of believing that it has to be either Science or Faith. Several of my students found the fact that I taught both RE and Science confusing, and they demanded to know which one I really believed. But slightly more worrying was the number of my colleagues who were surprised to discover that I could be a scientist and believe in God... and not just any old wishy-washy, vague pantheistic notion of God-in-Nature, but the God-made-Man who made specific demands of his followers.
The Faith Movement, with its specific emphasis on the synthesis of Science and Religion, helped me to feel less of an oddity - lots of people with scientific credentials who actually confessed to a belief in God (meeting priests with doctorates in astrophysics puts paid to the notion that religion is incompatible with "proper" Science!)
And now, the Holy Father has spoken out clearly about how faith in God is not incompatible with acceptance of evolution.
The Pontiff, during a question-and-answer session with 400 priests of the dioceses of Belluno-Feltre and Treviso, said that today in Germany, and also in the United States, there is a "fervent debate between so-called creationism and evolutionism, presented as if one of these alternatives excluded the other: Whoever believes in the Creator cannot think about evolution and whoever affirms evolution must exclude God."
However, Benedict XVI called this apparent conflict an absurdity.
"Because on one hand," he explained, "there is a great deal of scientific proof in favor of evolution, which appears as a reality that we must see and that enriches our knowledge of life and of being as such. But the doctrine of evolution does not answer everything and does not answer the great philosophical question: Where does everything come from? And how does everything take a path that ultimately leads to the person?
"It seems to me that it is very important that reason opens up even more, that it sees this information, but that it also sees that this information is not enough to explain all of reality. It is not enough."
The Pope urged a broader understanding of reason and the recognition of its vastness: "Our reason is not something irrational at heart, a product of irrationality. And reason precedes everything, creative reason, and we are truly the reflection of this reason.
"We are planned and wanted and, therefore, there is an idea that precedes me, a meaning that precedes me, which I must discover, follow and which, in the end, gives meaning to my life."
The more I read and hear about the Holy Father, the more I love him. Viva il Papa ! You can read more about his question-and-answer session over at ZENIT.