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State Chaplain 2020 - 2021

Picture of Rev Kenney St. Hilaire

Rev Kenneth St. Hilaire

August 2020

It’s not infrequently that people try to pit science and religion against each other, as if people who are scientifically minded should have nothing to do with religion, and people who have religion should regard science with grave suspicion. Granted, there are many people for whom these are apt descriptions. They insist on a sharp divide between the realms of science and religion. Some see the discoveries of science as a contradiction of their understanding of the Bible. Others say they’re too intelligent to subscribe to any religion.


 Dare I suggest that scientists be open to religious belief, and religious believers be open to the progress of the sciences? I know it’s a bold proposal, but it may be more doable than you think. Not only were some of the greatest scientists in history people of faith, but there are still today large numbers of people who see no contradiction between religion and science. We Catholics are among them!

 It’s good to keep in mind one of the fundamental principles that is true of both science and religion. Both endeavors are convinced that reality is knowable. For example, physicists believe that the movement of an object (e.g., a golf ball) can be predicted fairly accurately by knowing its mass, the coefficient of friction of its surface, the force with which it is propelled, the speed and direction of the wind, etc. If physicists believed that the trajectory of the golf ball could never be predicted, they would not waste their time trying to figure it out. Science believes that reality can be known.

 Likewise, people of religion believe that reality can be known. However, there’s a difference: we believe that reality encompasses more than what can be measured, dissected, or otherwise tested in a laboratory. There’s more to this world than meets the eye, even aided by a microscope, telescope, x-ray machine, or infrared goggles. Therefore, science does not afford access to all that can be known.

 Perhaps this point is already widely agreed upon. I am admittedly no expert, but I think most scientists would say there are some things that seem to elude scientific measurement. There are definitely observations that can be made of them, but these realities cannot be completely captured and defined using scientific methods.

 I am thinking of love, anger, commitment, ambition, hope, grief, and the like. Are all of these merely the result of chemical processes? Although science can say much about these experiences, there is something about them that escapes scientific definition. And if these escape scientific definition — we argue — there can also be other realities that do the same (e.g., God, angels, human souls, etc.)

 In any case, science and religion are both in pursuit of what is true and real. And what is true and real cannot contradict itself (for example, God cannot both exist and not exist — that would be a contradiction), so there should be no contradiction between science and religion. They should work together. If there seems to be a contradiction between the truths of science and the truths of religion, it is only an apparent contradiction; there is a misunderstanding somewhere along the way.

 So, let’s get the word out: science and religion are friends!


Vivat Jesus!


Fr. Kenneth St. Hilaire, State Chaplain