Science-Church Dialogue Seen as Improving

Cardinal Poupard Points to Project STOQ

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 11, 2005 (Zenit.org).- It is possible to overcome the prejudices and suspicions that still exist between the scientific world and the Church, says a Vatican official.



Cardinal Paul Poupard, president of the Pontifical Council for Culture, made the comment today when presenting the second phase of the project "Science, Theology, and the Ontological Quest" (STOQ).

Having seen a successful first year, "this project responds to a real need of interest and formation," the cardinal told journalists.

During the first year, some 300 students have participated in the 12 academic courses and four seminars of the project, at three participating universities in Rome.

Six doctoral grants were given to develop research on the relationship between science and religion, reported Cardinal Poupard.

About 1,200 people, including non-students, participated in the 32 public conferences and the two workshops organized by Project STOQ.

The initiative, directed by the council headed by the cardinal, is taking place in collaboration with the Lateran University, the Gregorian University and the Regina Apostolorum athenaeum and, in various ways, with other schools, the cardinal said.

It is supported financially by the John Templeton Foundation, as well as by several sponsors interested in "a new dialogue between scientific and humanist culture," he reported.

The project is being carried out at three levels.

The first is that of teaching, which includes the participation of renowned professors, such as Nobel Prize winner Werner Arber of Switzerland, and Father Stanley Jaki, of Seton Hall University, in the United States.

The second level is that of research, which is divided by area according the specialization of the participating university.

Gianfranco Basti, director of Project STOQ, explained the different specializations.

The Gregorian University is concentrating on the problems of the foundation of philosophy of science and nature.

"The Lateran University is devoting itself to the systematic formalization of the relationship between science and humanism, also using the new born discipline of 'formal ontology,' paying particular attention to an 'anthropology for the third millennium,'" he said.

"The athenaeum Regina Apostolorum is, instead, dedicating itself to deepening the relationships between theology, philosophy and life sciences, with particular reference to the ethical nuances," he said.

The project plans to publish, before the end of 2006, the results of these research programs as an integrated collection of six books, edited by the Pontifical Council for Culture. The volumes will be entitles "The STOQ Research Collection."

The project's third level includes activities to actively join in an exchange of information with other state and private universities, with the possibility of offering mutual recognition and fellowships to write doctoral theses.

Preparations are under way for the STOQ International Conference on "Infinity in Science, Philosophy and Theology," planned for November. The conference will be a three-day discussion on the topic between physicists, mathematicians, logicians, philosophers and theologians.