Project Aims to Promote Dialogue Between Faith and Science

STOQ Includes Holy See, Pontifical Universities and Templeton Foundation

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2003 (Zenit.org).- The Holy See, three pontifical universities and the Templeton Foundation have launched an unprecedented project to promote dialogue between faith and science.



The STOQ Project -- for science, theology and the ontological quest -- is directed by the Pontifical Council for Culture.

Supported financially by the Pennsylvania-based Templeton Foundation, the initiative is being carried out by the Lateran University, the Gregorian University and the Regina Apostolorum Athenaeum.

The project seeks to foster relations between the Churches and Christian ecclesial communities with the scientific world, the organizers explained at a press conference Tuesday at the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Its objective is to form specialized personnel in the area of dialogue between science and faith, through specific programs of study offered by each of the universities.

The programs are geared to philosophy and theology students of Roman schools and to university students with a solid scientific formation, who wish to study the philosophical and theological implications of modern science.

At the press conference, Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, said that the project should become "a cornerstone in the history of relations between the Church and science."

Its advent coincides with "a new stage of the dialogue between science and faith," coming at a time when the climate "has changed profoundly, both on the part of scientists as well as on the part of the Catholic Church," he said.

"The Church needs science, and science needs religion," the cardinal added. "Science can purify religion of the error of superstition. As a way of knowing the truth, the Church cannot do without science."

"Religion, for its part, can purify science of the idolatry of the scientific spirit and false absolutes," he added. What is more, science needs to "recover its sapiential dimension."

In a word, the cardinal continued, it is an attempt to create an alliance between science and conscience so that "the trinomial science-technology-conscience is at the service of the cause of the authentic good of man, of every man, and of all men."

Each of the three pontifical universities will focus on a particular area of research.

The Gregorian will study the problems of the foundation of the philosophy of science and of nature.

The Lateran will concentrate on the systematic formulation of the relation between the scientific and humanistic disciplines, using the discipline of formal ontology, paying special attention to an "anthropology for the third millennium."

Regina Apostolorum will focus on relations between theology, philosophy and life sciences, with special attention to the ethical implications, that is, bioethics.

The project provides for joint initiatives and programs with other universities, such as Princeton and Harvard's Divinity School, with the possibility of offering double recognition, as well as fellowships to write doctoral theses in top universities.

An international congress on science and religion is planned for November 2004, in the course of the project's second academic year.

The initiative will be enhanced with electronic and printed publications on the key arguments, as well as the creation of a Web page for the exchange of information on the relation between science and faith.