On Thursday, November 13, over 100 people gathered at St. Vincent Ferrer to hear Professor Stephen Barr deliver the parish’s second annual St. Albert’s Day Lecture. His topic was “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith.” The lecture was excellent in both content and delivery. Prof. Barr argued, among other things, that 20th-century discoveries in physics have overturned, seemingly definitively, the materialist assumptions that shaped scientific thinking throughout the bulk of the modern period. It is this materialist understanding of science, and not science itself, that is often at odds with religion. In his talk, Prof. Barr identified the figures and topics instrumental to this recent change of fortune for materialism.
Prof. Barr’s conclusions suggest that the 20th century has actually opened the door, not closed it, to a more sympathetic reading among scientists of the medieval claim made famous by St. Albert and his student St. Thomas, that there can exist no contradiction between the truth of science and the truth of revelation. To be sure, at any given time it may not be clear as to how all of the points of faith and science intersect, but both the scientist and the theologian can proceed with confidence knowing that what is genuinely true in one realm of study is equally true for the other.
Copies of Prof. Barr’s book, Modern Physics and Ancient Faith, may be purchased here.
In addition to his book, Prof. Barr has written numerous articles on faith and science, many of which have been published in First Things. Click here for a listing of these articles.
Below you can listen to Prof. Barr’s address in full. The first clip contains the audio of the lecture itself, and the second includes the Q & A session held afterwards.
2008 St. Albert's Day Lecture: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download (106)
Questions at St. Albert's Day Lecture: Hide Player | Play in Popup | Download (37)