HPS Colloquium: From Francis Bacon to Pope Francis: The Competing Philosophies of Science that Created Modern Catholicism


Location: 109 O'Shaughnessy Hall

Join us as guest speaker John Slattery presents his recent research!  We meet every Tuesday before Fall Break at 4 PM for coffee, snacks, and a chance to catch up before the presentation begins.  Please note that as of this week, we will be meeting in a new location--109 O'Shag--as we've outgrown our previous space!

“From Francis Bacon to Pope Francis: The Competing Philosophies of Science that Created Modern Catholicism”

In the late 19th century, the Vatican censured several priests for writing books that seemed to support human evolution. While many Christian denominations maintained an anti-evolution stance well into the early 21st  century, the Vatican has changed course, showing strong support for the widely-held scientific theory of human evolution and the thesis of common ancestry. This talk proposes that this change reflects two underlying philosophies of science present in Catholicism, and how each has played a role in shaping the current position of the Vatican with respect to the modern sciences.

John Slattery is a Senior Program Associate with the Dialogue on Science, Ethics, and Religion (DoSER) at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). There, he manages the Science for Seminaries Project, which helps seminaries incorporate science into their curriculum. Dr. Slattery’s research focuses on historical interactions between Christianity and science, especially in the last few centuries. His book, Faith and Science at Notre Dame: John Zahm, Evolution, and the Catholic Church, tells the story of the philosophical developments of science in late-19th century Catholicism, culminating in the censure of a pro-evolution priest from Indiana, John Zahm. He has also published on the historical connections between eugenics, religion, and science in the early 20th century, uncovering previously unknown tendencies in the writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ. Dr. Slattery is a recent doctoral graduate in Systematic Theology and the History & Philosophy of Science from the University of Notre Dame.