Great progress in science raises "great and serious" questions. “Scientific and technological progress is needed for the good of all humanity, and its benefits cannot only profit a few”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis this morning met with the participants in the plenary assembly of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture. The meeting was centred on ‘The Future of Humanity: New Challenges to Anthropology’ aimed at understanding the future developments of science and technology.
In his address, the pontiff noted that the great progress in medicine and genetics, and the incredible advances in autonomous and thinking machines, not only lead some to think that we are "almost at the dawn of a new era and the birth of a new human being, superior to what we have known until now,” but push others to raise “great and serious” questions. For Francis, “the principle that not everything that is technically possible or feasible is therefore ethically acceptable remains valid”.
Citing the question in Psalm 8, “What is man that you are mindful of him, and a son of man that you care for him?” the pope said that the anthropological answer “emerges already in Genesis and runs through Revelation, developing around the fundamental elements of the relationship and freedom”.
"The relationship unfolds according to a triple dimension: towards matter, land and animals; towards divine transcendence; and towards other human beings. Freedom expresses itself in autonomy – which is naturally relative – and in moral choices."
"This fundamental system has underpinned the thought of much of humanity for centuries and still maintains its validity today. But, at the same time today, we realise that the great principles and fundamental concepts of anthropology are rarely questioned even on the basis of a greater awareness of the complexity of the human condition even though they require further investigation."
Considering anthropology as a "fluid horizon that evolves due to socio-economic changes, population movements and their intercultural exchanges, but also because of the development of a global culture and, above, all the incredible discoveries of science and technology", Francis noted some fundamental points that are needed to meet the challenges of our time.
The starting point is “the appreciation of the sciences", which "find their ultimate foundation in God’s design. He 'chose us in him, before the foundation of the world," and 'destined us for adoption to himself (Eph 1:3-5) and entrusted us with creation 'to cultivate and care" for the earth (Gen 2.15).”
Precisely because man is the image and likeness of a God who created the world out of love, the care of the whole creation must follow the logic of free giving, love, and service, rather than domination and abuse.”
It is fundamental to "draw on the treasures of wisdom preserved in religious traditions, popular wisdom, literature and the arts, which deeply touch the mystery of human existence, without forgetting, or rather by rediscovering those found in philosophy and theology."
To avoid the "tragic division" between "humanistic-literary-theological and scientific culture" and "to encourage greater dialogue between the Church, the community of believers, and the scientific community," the pope turned to Laudato Si’, noting the "pressing need for humanism".
Two other great principles that the Church offers for this dialogue are the centrality of the human person and the universal end-use of assets.
"Scientific and technological progress is needed for the good of all humanity, and its benefits cannot only profit a few. In so doing, we shall avoid in the future adding new inequalities based on knowledge, increasing the gap between rich and poor." Indeed, another "always valid" principle for Francis is that "not everything that is technically possible or feasible is therefore ethically acceptable”.