Science in the Service of Peace – St. John Paul II

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Pope John Paul II in a November 12, 1983 address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences discusses science, truth, and peace:

All knowledge takes its nobility and dignity from the truth that it expresses. Only in the unbiased pursuit of truth do culture and especially science preserve their freedom and are able to defend it from any attempt at manipulation by ideologies or powers.

‘The truth will set you free’: these words from the Gospel enjoy perennial validity and illumine with divine light the endeavours of the scientist who refuses to subordinate his commitment and his research to anything but the truth.

Truth is the goal of the whole universe: finis totius Universi est veritas, as one of the greatest thinkers of all time, Thomas Aquinas, wrote. The truth of all beings, their forms and their laws are hidden in the bosom of the Universe, which yearns for its truth to be discovered by the human intellect. You, Men of Science, who welcome the world into your minds, work upon it in your laboratories, and investigate its most secret byways in your dedicated efforts, what are you seeking if not the truth?

Have courage and the boldness of reason that untiringly seeks the truth and you will find in the Church and in this Apostolic See your most convinced allies. Of course, the conquests of science are at times provisional, subject to review and rethinking, and they will never succeed in expressing the whole truth hidden in the Universe. The sense of mystery is part of your intellectual heritage and reminds you that what you do not know is much vaster than what you do know. In the search for truth, the boldness of reasons is linked with the humility of its own limits, the joy of knowing goes hand-in-hand with wonder at the unknown.

Furthermore, the sense of mystery also envelops those truths which science cannot discover, but which question the mind of the scientist in the innermost part of his being, where he experiences an irresistible longing and yearning for the divine. The goal of the Universe is not only to reveal the truths it holds within itself, but to manifest the First Truth which gave the worlds its origin and form.All knowledge takes its nobility and dignity from the truth that it expresses. Only in the unbiased pursuit of truth do culture and especially science preserve their freedom and are able to defend it from any attempt at manipulation by ideologies or powers….

More than any other, the scientific community is a community of peace, for your rigorous search for the truth in the field of nature is independent of ideologies and therefore of the conflicts that result from them. Your activity demands sincere collaboration, and the frank communication of the results or your research.

The scientific community, a community of peace, must be extended to all nations, through the foundation everywhere of institutes for the research and sound technological application. It is not enough that political colonialism has ceased; every form of scientific and technological colonialism must cease as well. I cannot fail to note with satisfaction that the Pontifical Academy of Sciences includes an ever greater number of scientists from all the nations of the world, with no racial or religious discrimination. This is a form of cultural ecumenism which the Church, as the promoter of the true religious ecumenism, cannot but regard with a sense or lively satisfaction.

Click here for the full text of John Paul II’s discussion from a Pontifical Academy of Sciences publication of papal addresses (see page 257).

Click here for the full text of John Paul II’s discussion from the Pontifical Academy of Sciences web page.

 

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