Sanchez: Faith and science

Nature Speaks

I’M NO fortune teller. I don’t believe in fortune telling. Sorry, Madame Auring, or any astrologers out there, you’re out of place with this columnist.

What I believe is faith and science. What I trust is the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Religion-based? Why not? The Pontifical Academy of Sciences is distinctive in its kind because it is the only supranational academy of sciences in the world.

Founded in Rome on 17 August 1603 as the first exclusively scientific academy in the world by Federico Cesi, Giovanni Heck, Francesco Stelluti and Anastasio de Filiis with the name Linceorum Academia, to which Galileo Galilei was appointed member on 25 August 1610, it was reestablished in 1847 by Pius IX with the name Pontificia Accademia dei Nuovi Lincei.

Its current name and statutes by Pius XI in 1936.

Its mission is to honor pure science wherever it may be found, ensure its freedom and encourage research for the progress of science.

Basic sciences remain fundamental for generating a valid and evidence- based model of the world. Sciences become ever more interconnected across disciplines, including the humanities. It demands that scientists and science policy makers need to engage with society to maintain (foster) trust in science and to counter the spread of statements that are not based on scientific insights (fake news).

In the 2018 Plenary, we attempted to identify emerging insights from basic science, and—where appropriate—connect new insights with visions for problem-solving strategies and related research. As Goethe said, knowing is not enough, you must apply; willing is not enough; you must do.

To identify and share approaches on how to strengthen societies’ trust in science. Causes of possibly growing mistrust in science are addressed and opportunities to enhance trust in science identified, including science education and communication.

In that context we shall also embrace the theme, how to foster fruitful relations between sciences and religions.

Now we hear Pope Francis who made an “urgent call to respond to the ecological crisis.” Francis invited the 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide to join a week of celebration and action in May commemorating the fifth anniversary of his landmark encyclical “Laudato Si’, on Care for Our Common Home.”

He urged the global Catholic community to undertake ambitious actions to address the mounting environmental perils facing the planet and its people — climate change; ecosystems in the Amazon, Australia and the Arctic approaching tipping points; and the unprecedented threat of biodiversity loss facing 1 million plant and animal species.

The initiative is the latest spearheaded by the Vatican under Francis, who throughout his seven-year papacy has persistently called Catholics and non-Catholics alike to an ecological conversion to safeguard the environment and preserve its natural resources for present and future generations. Amen to that future.*


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