One of the great reversals operated by Modernity is that religion was relegated to the rank of relative truths when science was raised to the rank of absolute truths. The coronavirus …
One of the great reversals operated by Modernity is that religion was relegated to the rank of relative truths when science was raised to the rank of absolute truths.
The coronavirus epidemic further highlights the role of major institutions that influence our worldview and history, including science, politics and religion. In the face of this health crisis, science – especially medicine – is in the spotlight. The political authorities support the legitimacy of their decisions on “learned societies”, thus further strengthening the authority of science. Here is a pitfall: the possible weakening of politics in favor of expertise.
Science cannot do everything
If it is necessary that the policy is based on expertise, it is up to him, however, to bear the final responsibility for major strategic decisions to avert the epidemic, while ensuring as much as possible the continuity of so-called essential activities. , with the associated risks. The politician can be less entrenched exclusively behind science than the expertise itself is not always unanimous. The health crisis reminds us of two sometimes forgotten truths: first, science is not exclusively the field of irrefutable proof; second, science cannot do everything.
It appears more clearly today that science, even brought to the highest level of sophistication and performance, remains a place where certainties, but also doubt, hypothesis, theory, trial and error are deployed. , affirmation then negation, reversal; and even sometimes a certain form of beliefs … And it appears that nature, in its most impenetrable enigmas, always resists the will to total mastery of science and technique.
The silence of religion, more or less imposed?
You have to look at history to understand what it means. The religious man of long ago attributed to great metaphysical truths the character of the absolute and to natural truths the character of the relative, even the contingent. One of the great reversals operated by Modernity is that religion was relegated to the rank of relative truths – even to the category of unnecessary superstitions – when science was elevated to the rank of absolute truths. A certain scientism intended to substitute science for religion as a source of absolute truth.
In the current crisis, we see that religion does not pretend to compete, neither with science nor with politics. She even reluctantly accepts the idea that religion be excluded from activities deemed essential to maintain during confinement. It would have been unthinkable for the religious man in the face of the great plagues of yesteryear, when the Church looked after both souls and bodies in its hospices.
The Church: a prophetic mission
Today, religion plays the part that remains to it; and it is not negligible: to promote concrete charity and to give a metaphysical, even eschatological and apocalyptic, meaning to the events of history. Admittedly, we no longer hear – or so rarely – yesterday’s sermons on divine punishment for the sin of man. However, there remains the prophetic dimension of the Church which proclaims that God is the master of history and that man must return to God in tribulation.
Friday, March 27, the blessing of the world and of humanity by Pope Francis, monstrance brandished towards the sky, his prayer and his words, carry well this deep meaning of the relation of the religious to history: on the one hand, supplication made it to God to spare men; on the other hand, the urgent appeal to humanity to find this God too long forgotten.