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Quote of the Week

November 15, 2006

“It may be said to be an irony of history that the cultural forces which we have accumulated since the seventeenth century as the historical liberators of humanity, namely science and technology, which were suppose to free us from all those things from which religion was unable to free men and women–hunger and poverty, tyranny, war and historical fate–at present seem not only to have increased this hunger and poverty further and conjured up the possibility of a nuclear war but also–in human hands–to pose the greatest threat to our future.

“From as early as the seventeenth century, but above all since the eighteenth century, science seemed to herald the end of all historical religions. These were–it was heedlessly thought–a phase of childish ignorance in human history. Now that we are approaching the year 2000 it is precisely science and technology which are posing ‘the religious question’ to us more urgently than ever, at least where the question of human meaning still has any significance. Scientific theories are now seeking the fundamental condition for the possibility of science itself, and this lies outside or beyond all the sciences. It is not the sciences or technology that instil anxiety into us, but their calm to provide absolute salvation. At any rate we are coming to the conclusion that human, scientific and technological creativity carries within itself the possibility of self-destruction. Science and technology, once hailed as liberators of humanity, have subjected men and women to a new kind of fate which brings social and historical slavery. Is it possible that our human creativity itself is threatening the very meaning of history? Will the ‘guardian of creation’ (Gen. 215; 1:28) become its betrayer?”

Edward Schillebeeckx, On Christian Faith


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