In the last post on this document, we looked very briefly at human work. It’s a topic worth considerable study, prayer, and thought. But we must move on. “Science and technology” is very much on peoples’ minds these days. The Aparecida bishops begin with appreciation for the development of human knowledge and expertise:
123. We praise God for those who cultivate the sciences and technology, offering a great number of goods and cultural values whose contributions include helping to extend life expectancy and the quality of life. Nevertheless, science and technology do not have the answers to the great questions of human life. The ultimate answer to the human being’s fundamental question can only come from integral reason and ethics enlightened by God’s revelation. When truth, good, and beauty are separated, and when human persons and their fundamental exigencies do not constitute the ethical criterion, science and technology turn against the human being who has created them.
So, first, as intellectual beings, we are made to explore, study, and learn. To the extent we apply this to the greater concerns of life, we contribute to human destiny. When selfish or narrow concerns dominate, we lose the thread for the very reason God has given us the ability to reason.
124. Today the boundaries drawn between the sciences are disappearing. This way of understanding dialogue suggests the idea that no knowledge is completely autonomous. This situation opens to theology a terrain of opportunities for interacting with the social sciences.
This is an interesting assessment. There was an era when science had far fewer boundaries. But the culture of science has favored specialization for many decades now. Within the sciences, there is often not much understanding outside of one’s discipline. I do think there’s some recognition in the wider culture, and among scientists that there’s a lot more out there than any single subdivision of biology, astronomy, or whatever. It’s still a work in progress on this front, I would say. What about you?
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.