Physicist Credits John Paul II for Restarting a Key Dialogue

View of Antonio Zichichi, President of World Federation of Scientists

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ROME, OCT. 14, 2003 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II's 25-year pontificate has served to relaunch the dialogue between faith and science, says Antonio Zichichi, president of the World Federation of Scientists.



Zichichi, a pioneer in nuclear physics and a professor at the University of Bologna, summarized the work carried out by the Holy Father in a phrase he used immediately after being elected Pope: "Science and faith are both gifts of God."

"John Paul II gives to science the strength to defend itself from the onslaught of the prevailing culture, clearly separating science, which is the study of the logic of creation, and technology, which is the use of science, for good or evil," the physicist said in an article sent to ZENIT.

In a message addressed to the World Federation of Scientists, Zichichi recalled that John Paul II said: "Man can die as a result of the technology that he himself invents, but not of the truth he discovers, following the teaching of Galileo."

According to Zichichi, this pontificate has initiated a new alliance between faith and science, not only with the rehabilitation of Galileo Galilei, but also with a profound understanding of him.

"On March 30, 1979, the Pope met in the Vatican with European physicists and told them that science was born from an act of faith," Zichichi said. "Galileo, in fact, studied stones to discover the logic of creation."

"The joint action of John Paul II and of the scientists of 115 nations who signed the Manifesto of Erice were a determinant contribution to the fall of the Berlin Wall," the physicist said. The manifesto, signed in 1982 by 10,000 scientists worldwide, called for nuclear disarmament.

John Paul II dedicated his 1998 encyclical "Fides et Ratio" to the relation between reason -- in particular science and philosophy -- and faith.