Catholic high school teachers debunk science vs. religion myth

By Michael O. Garvey

Word of Life mural

Science and religion teachers from Catholic high schools nationwide are meeting at the University of Notre Dame June 14-19 (Sunday-Friday) to debunk the notion that their academic disciplines contradict each other.

The week-long seminar, titled Science and Religion: Strangers, Rivals, or Partners in the Search for Truth? and hosted by Notre Dame’s Institute for Church Life (ICL), has attracted some 90 Catholic high school teachers of biology, physics, chemistry, mathematics and religion from 23 dioceses from across the country.

According to ICL director John C. Cavadini, what Pope Benedict XVI described as “the friendship between science and faith” is a long-held Christian belief despite the fact that conflicts and misunderstandings over the past four centuries have created a gulf between science and religion.

“The myth that science and religion are, and must be, in conflict is just that, a myth. It is nevertheless one of the most potent causes of the destruction of religious faith, especially of young people,” Cavadini said. “This seminar for high school teachers hopes to equip them for exposing this myth for what it is, and for replacing it with a more constructive and compelling account of the relation between science and religion.”

Cavadini hopes that teachers participating in the seminar will learn how to incorporate what they learn here into their regular classes in science and religion. “We want science teachers to learn how theological insights can be used to inform some of the typical topics in biology and physics courses, while religion teachers will learn how scientific findings can help inform and enhance their appreciation of God’s creation and means of passing that appreciation on to their students,” he said.

With Cavadini, other seminar faculty include Rev. Nicanor Austriaco, O.P., professor of molecular microbiology and genetics at Providence College; Rev. John M. Braverman, S.J., professor of biology at St. Joseph’s University; and Rev. Guy J. Consolmagno, S.J., curator of the Vatican Observatory.

The Science and Religion Seminar has been made possible with a grant from the John Templeton Foundation and supplemental funding from Catholic Extension.

Contact: John Cavadini, 574-631-5510,

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on June 11, 2015.