Friday of the Fifth Week in Ordinary Time
(Genesis 3:1-8; Mark 7:31-37)
In its Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, Vatican II expresses ambivalence on the autonomy of the sciences and, indeed, on other areas of secular knowledge. On one hand, it recognizes that they follow their own rules which humans should strive to understand and utilize. On the other, the council declares that they, like religious knowledge, are derived from God and should be pursued with attention to God’s universal laws. Today’s first reading is an example of the human quest for knowledge without due consideration of God.
In the reading the tempter tells the woman to ignore what God has said about eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. It says that the woman would not die after eating its fruit and that, indeed, she will possess knowledge equivalent to God’s. Deceived by these empty promises, the woman and then the man disobey the divine imperative not to eat from the tree. The result, of course, is disastrous for them and their descendants.
By not attending to God’s commands scientists jeopardize the future of humanity. For example, pursuing research in areas which are forbidden like human cloning, they present humans as mechanisms to be manipulated and not as mysteries to be revered. The result of this folly may be the wholesale destruction of at least part of the species.