During the fifth annual University of Dallas Ministry Conference, on Oct. 29, Rev. William Stoeger delivered a presentation titled “How the Big Bang and Evolution Fit in with Divine Creation?” at the Dallas Convention Center.
Stoeger, a staff scientist for the Vatican Observatory Research Group at the University of Arizona, Tucson, addressed the common belief that science and faith are “mutually exclusive,” an error that a proper understanding of faith and science can easily rectify.
To explain how his lecture fit into the conference as a whole, Stoeger said, “We live in a scientific culture, and inculturation is important to proclaiming God effectively today.”
He added, “There is much misunderstanding of what science tells us and what divine creation is about, and this leads to conflict, even though both are right.”
Stoeger then embarked upon a brief tour of the cosmos, noting that almost any minor change in the formation of the universe could have made the universe “completely sterile.”
According to Stoeger, cosmologists seek to further understand the “origins and destiny of the universe” from the enigmatic Planck Era – a period just after the “Big Bang” during which the current laws of physics did not apply – to the expansion of the universe that allowed for the formation of the heavier elements and thus for the formation of life.
However, Stoeger claimed that, while the natural sciences are excellent at describing the physical order of the universe, they can never answer the question of why the universe exists in the first place.
According to Stoeger, “Physics always presupposes existence and order and attempts to describe them.” Divine creation “is not an alternative, but a theological explanation for the reality all sciences explore,” he said.
Stoeger argued that divine creation sees God as the principle that “sustains and conserves our existence and order,” although precisely how this is done remains a “mystery.”
In Stoeger’s view, “Creation is not necessarily an event, but more of a relationship: The Creator enables things to be and to act as they are.”
Stoeger said that science and theology enrich each other, though neither will ever adequately describe God or the universe. He concluded by saying that God is like an “author, and revelation and creation are like two books: If you think the books are in conflict, you misunderstand one or the other.”
Stoeger’s talk was part of the Ministry Conference’s “Science and Religion” track. Later on Saturday, he also participated in a panel titled “How Does a Working Scientist Reconcile Profession and Faith?” with Dr. Jonathan Lunine and UD Physics Professor Dr. Richard Olenick.