The Catholic Third Way in Religion and Science

I am usually frustrated when I talk with people about the relationship between religion and science.  I taught a course one summer at the University of Wyoming on the topic and trying to move past the extreme positions is challenging.  This piece is a helpful introduction to the Catholic approach, but the real issue is the lack of a deep enough philosophical context to even have a debate/conversation.

Bill Nye, Ken Ham, and the Catholic Third Way | Strange Notions.

In the popular press, Francis has been dubbed “The Pope of the Poor” and “The People’s Pope,” and both capture something essential. If you want a formula that most clearly expresses the beating heart of Francis’ papacy, however, the best candidate is probably “The Pope of Mercy.”

As usual, John Allen, Jr. has a good perspective on All Things Catholic.  Read the whole post here.

In the popular …

I’ve been thinking a lot about evangelization a lot these days.  A recent article by Russel Shaw Thank God for Separation of Church and State. makes the case that one of the major things that needs to be done is

rebuilding a strong Catholic subculture committed to sustaining the religious identity of American Catholics and forming them for the task of evangelizing America.

Is it really true that Catholics need to rebuild a strong subculture?  I have resisted this idea for a long time.  It strikes me as too confrontational.  It smacks of parochialism at its worse.  God is present in the culture as well as in the church.  Aren’t we called to embrace all that is good within the culture we find ourselves in?

We are.  But lately the tensions have increased.  If Catholics do not have a strong subculture, we have no place to stand.  We have nothing to offer the culture for its transformation.  We are adrift.  When a strong subculture is present, there is the possibility of true engagement with the culture.  Rather than merely following the culture’s lead, the Catholic subculture can affirm and challenge the surrounding culture.

I am coming around to the opinion that a strong Catholic subculture is important not just for the church, but for the culture as well.  A look back at history and scripture makes it clear that there are times when God calls His people “apart” from the world to witness to the world.

Catholic Subculture


“…”fundamentalisms” all follow a certain pattern. They are embattled forms of spirituality, which have emerged as a response to a perceived crisis. They are engaged in a conflict with enemies whose secularist policies and beliefs seem inimical to religion itself. Fundamentalists do not regard this battle as a conventional political struggle, but experience it as a cosmic war between the forces of good and evil. They fear annihilation, and try to fortify their beleaguered identity by means of a selective retrieval of certain doctrines and practices of the past.”

Karen Armstrong

Freedom and Religion

On my arrival in the United States it was the religious aspect of the country that first struck my eye. As I prolonged my stay, I perceived the great political consequences that flowed from these new facts. Among us, I had seen the spirit of religion and the spirit of freedom almost always move in contrary directions. Here I found them united intimately with one another: they reigned together on the same soil.

Alexis de Tocqueville quoted in Noll, American God p. 6