Pope Benedict XVI on Wednesday cautioned against excluding God from the pursuit of knowledge, saying that without God discoveries can become problematic and dangerous.
The pope was speaking to several thousand pilgrims and tourists gathered at his weekly general audience in a Vatican auditorium. He strayed from his prepared remarks to underline the theme of his speech - God's relationship with mankind as expressed in Psalm 143.
"It is important in our time that we do not forget God, with all the other discoveries which we have gleaned in the meantime, which are many. But they can all become problematic, even dangerous if the fundamental knowledge is lacking, that which gives us meaning and orientation for everything, the knowledge of God the creator," Benedict said.
In the past, the pope has criticized those who in the name of science say creation was without direction or order.
Reading from the prepared English text the pope noted how the transcendence of God saves mankind from "idolatry, moral perversion and evil" and called the knowledge of God a "privilege" which distinguishes the human being from other creatures.
In his informal remarks in Italian, Benedict pointed to the knowledge of God as the "fundamental difference" between the human being and "the other animals."
"Man is capable of knowing God, his creator. Man is capable of truth, capable of knowledge which becomes relationship and friendship," the pope said.
The pope's remarks in November that the universe was made by an "intelligent project" were hailed by advocates of "intelligent design," who hold that the universe is so complex it must have been created by a higher power. Proponents of the theory are seeking to get public schools in the United States to teach it as part of the science curriculum, the AP reports.