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Our readers asked:

Why do some religions change as scientific advances and findings come forth, and others don’t?

Charles C. Camosy, PhD Answers:

What we call “science” today was first practiced at European universities founded by the Catholic Church. Almost no serious religion rejects science. However, history is littered with rejected scientific theories once assumed to be true, and because it is often difficult to tell whether scientific progress will produce good results, some religions are more careful than others when deciding to support certain scientific research.

Sometimes scientific progress is seen as a good in itself. Some believe that we should just move science and technology forward simply because we can. But religions, while obviously supportive of advances which help the common good, often perform the role of looking out for the dangers of scientific advancement–especially when it can be used to cause dramatic harm. Think about nuclear war, or bio-terrorism, or intensive factory farming of non-human animals. Scientific progress has made these and other great evils possible, and it isn’t “anti-science” for religions to suggest caution when moving forward in other areas as well.

The Author : Charles C. Camosy, PhD
Charlie Camosy is assistant professor of Christian ethics at Fordham University where he has been since finishing his Ph.D. in theology at Notre Dame in 2008. His book Too Expensive to Treat? Finitude, Tragedy, and the Neonatal ICU (Eerdmans, 2010) was honored at the 2011 Catholic Media Association awards. Peter Singer and Christian Ethics: Beyond Polarization was released with Cambridge University Press in May of 2012. Charlie is also the founder and co-director of the Catholic Conversation Project and a member of the ethics committee at the Children's Hospital of New York.
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