This week (or thereabout) most Core classes will be reading Galileo's "Letter to Madame Christina of Lorraine, Grand Duchess of Tuscany," and may be reading as well Pope Francis' Laudato Si. Together these texts introduce an interesting look at the intersection of faith with science.
In the case of Galileo, there was a clash between them, with the church taking a stance against the scientist because, ironically, his discoveries conflicted with the view of the cosmos advocated originally by Ptolomy and Aristotle and other philosophers (who were, obviously enough, not members of the church). However, their teachings, supported by a literalistic interpretation of certain Biblical passages, were used against Galileo and his discoveries. His letter makes a case for science and religion each having its own place, filling its own proper, though distinct as he would argue, function.
However, Pope Francis's Laudato Si brings fresh insights into the subject of faith and science, as he explores the proper role of faith in understanding ecology and climate change. Unlike the church of Galileo's time, the Holy Father took the time to look into the best of scientific research on the subject of ecology and climate change and then, in light of the insights gleaned from it, argues for a response from all people of good will to act responsibly toward the earth and to one another (particularly the poor, the marginalized, i.e. those most victimized by assaults on the environment and those least guilty of causing them). The two texts taken together can lead to some interesting and provocative conversations about faith and science and how they interconnect.