Broadcasting Science and Faith
Fr Robert Verrill OP explains a new initiative, working with Radio Maria
‘To contemplate and share the fruits of contemplation’ is one of the great mottos of the Dominican Order. There are many ways we can share the fruits of our contemplation, but in the last couple of years, the English Dominicans have been given a new way to do this through our collaboration with Radio Maria, England.
I’ve been thinking about the relationship between science and faith for several years now, so I was delighted to be asked by Radio Maria to help them produce a science and faith series. We’ve just completed the recording of our third series, and we are now making plans for a fourth.
Our first two series were recorded in the Radio Maria studio based in Cambridge, and we covered many different topics such as cosmology, evolution, genetics, miracles, neuroscience, and mathematics. You can listen to these episodes at https://anchor.fm/scienceandfaith1.
On the Road
But thanks to a generous grant from an organisation called Equipping Christian Leadership in an Age of Science, we were able to take Radio Maria on the road and record season three in several parishes in Cambridge and across London. In season three, we’ve tried to focus more on Catholic scientists themselves so that they can share their own personal stories about what it’s like to be both a Catholic and a scientist.
As for season four, we are planning to go into university chaplaincies to record conversations between professional scientists and Catholic students. One of our hopes in season four is to identify among these students future science and faith communicators who would be willing to attend residential training courses run by an organisation called God and the Big Bang. So there is a lot of collaboration involved with many different organisations, but at the heart of what is going on is the motto ‘To contemplate and share the fruits of contemplation’.
In the public imagination, it is often supposed that science and faith are incompatible. I remember as a teenager and a young adult being so worried that science might contradict the Catholic faith that I might end up losing my faith altogether. Yet the reality is that there are many Catholic scientists who see no such contradiction. Instead, they are able to see how science and faith can enrich one another. But although these people love science and love God, in their professional lives, they do not have that much opportunity to speak about the relationship between these two loves. So through Radio Maria, we have been giving Catholic scientists the opportunity to do this and share the fruits of their contemplation.
As we look to season four and the future, we are very mindful that the fruit of contemplation we share also contains seeds. We obviously want our audiences to find the content of our science and faith series interesting and enjoyable, but we also want to implant in them seeds of contemplation that will one day bear fruit as well.
From my own experience, I know how important it is for these seeds to be planted. Although I have always been a practising Catholic, I used to be afraid of asking questions about my faith. Instead, I devoted all my mental energy to cultivating my interest in mathematics. But my life took a dramatic change after listening to a BBC Radio programme about Catholic religious vocations and how religious orders were struggling to find new recruits. It was this programme that first got me thinking seriously about whether I could live the life of a religious. As I reflected on this question and opened my heart to God’s will, I suddenly stopped being afraid of losing my faith, and I realised that God wouldn’t abandon me to faithlessness if I placed all my questions before Him with a sincere heart. The producers of this BBC radio programme couldn’t possibly have known how their programmme would affect me, and they might very well have been shocked if they did, but it was through them that God planted the seed in me that would one day lead me to join the Dominican Order.
All of us can be instruments of God’s grace, and sometimes God chooses His instruments in very surprising ways. So I don’t know how the fruits of my contemplation and the contemplation of the scientists in our Radio Maria science and faith programmes are going to affect people. But my greatest hope is that the fruit of our contemplation will be in the hearts of our listeners, that they too might come to know more deeply the perfect love of God that casts out every fear.