Br. Guy Consolmagno, of the Vatican Observatory, discusses science and faith in a recent TED talk.
“An ancient Chinese myth tells of ten Suns that existed in primordial times. Prideful and intemperate, as pagan gods are often wont to be, these Suns rode together over the surface of the Earth each day, their combined heat scorching it. Insensitive to the plight of the mortals, the Suns refused to take turns in the sky, and were eventually struck down until only one Sun remained.
I was reminded of this story when I read yet again another example of an atheist inviting religious believers to go “one god more” when critically evaluating their beliefs. For instance, here is noted skeptic Michael Shermer at a recent debate about science and belief in God: “Ten-thousand different religions, a thousand different gods. Our opponents agree with us that 999 of those gods are false gods. They are atheists like we are atheists. What I’m asking you to do is just go one God further with us.”
and the University of Queensland is still performing the world’s slowest experiment.
Links: NewScientist, Catholic Herald, and University of Queensland
Image: University of Queensland
From his Wednesday audience yesterday:
“But our question today is does it make sense in the age of science and technology, to still speak of creation? How should we understand the narratives of Genesis? The Bible is not intended as a manual of the natural sciences; it wants to help us understand the authentic and profound truth of things. The fundamental truth that the stories of Genesis reveal is that the world is not a collection of contrasting forces, but has its origin and its stability in the Logos, the eternal reason of God, who continues to sustain the universe. There is a design of the world that is born from this Reason, the Spirit Creator. Believing that this is at the basis of all things, illuminates every aspect of life and gives us the courage to face the adventure of life with confidence and hope. So the Scripture tells us that the origin of the world, our origin is not irrational or out of necessity, but reason and love and freedom. And this is the alternative: the priority of the irrational, of necessity or the priority of reason, freedom and love. We believe in this position.”
January 25th—Feast of the Conversion of Saint Paul
During his human life, Jesus chose twelve men to be His apostles; it was these men who formed the authoritative leadership of the Church after the Resurrection. Yet we also find among the apostles another figure: a man who did not join them until after Christ’s death and Resurrection, Saint Paul. After the Gospels, the book of Acts begins with the Twelve, but it ends with Paul. The epistles of the New Testament are predominated by Paul’s writing. Paul’s influence is such that some have claimed, implausibly but perhaps not unexpectedly, that Christianity is in fact a Pauline invention. How are we to understand, then, this preeminence of Paul? Why was Paul chosen to be one of the foremost spreaders of the Gospel in the early Church? Why do the Twelve, who spent their time with Christ while he was alive, seem almost to take a back seat to the zealous evangelism of this newcomer, who not only didn’t know Christ until after His Resurrection, but was also an earlier persecutor of the Church?
The apostles are, first and foremost, witnesses. Christ is only significant if He is, in fact, the true historical figure we claim Him to be. In the end, it must be true that Christ lived and died and rose just as the Gospels claim that he did, or our faith is in vain (to quote Paul himself). Not being there ourselves to witness it historically, we must rely on the witness of the apostles. The Twelve were all there; they saw Jesus in his ordinary human life. They scattered when He was crucified, it is true, but they were there during His ministry, and they saw Him after the Resurrection. The Twelve, as witnesses, are witnesses of Christ’s real life, death, and Resurrection. They are necessary for our belief that He really lived.
Paul is a little different. Paul’s encounter with Christ is not less real than that of the Twelve, yet it is distinct in that it is solely an encounter with the risen Christ. Paul is, in a sense, an Apostle for the latter time, an Apostle not for the days of the Incarnation, but for the Last Age. Salvation history may be divided into three periods: the time before Christ, the time during His life, and the time after His Resurrection. Paul belongs entirely to this last period. St. Paul is the first apostle whose experience of Christ is like ours, in that it occurred after the event. Paul is chosen, in his own words, “last of all.” Yet this last place of witness is the first, in fact, of the modern Church.
There is no end to the reasons of Providence. I can only speculate, but Paul’s early influence might have been God’s way of emphatically beginning the mission of the missionary Church. Read more →
Br. John McCusker, OSB, writes at Homiletic and Pastoral Review:
Although the doctrine on the immortality of the soul is knowable through the supernatural light of faith, it can also be known philosophically through the natural light of reason. In his grand encyclical, Fides et Ratio, Blessed John Paul II proclaimed the need for a strong and rigorous philosophy which can respond to the most profound questions proposed by the human experience, lest people of our time (especially the young) stumble through life without foundation or any valid points of reference. 2 He challenges philosophers to address these most profound questions—which have an important relationship to the Christian faith—including the desire of men to know what happens after death: “We want to know if death will be the definitive end of our life or if there is something beyond—if it is possible to hope for an after-life or not.” 3
This natural knowledge of the immortality of the soul, part of what are traditionally known as the “preambles of the faith,” can reinforce the legitimacy of the basic questions answered by the Christian faith—such as: what happens to the soul after death?—and reassure believers in their most basic convictions.
The Vatican Information Service reports on Pope Benedict’s November 21st general audience:
“Benedict XVI dedicated his catechesis to the rationality of faith in God, emphasising that the Catholic tradition “has always rejected the so-called principle of ‘fideism’, that is, the will to believe against reason. … Indeed, although a mystery, God is not absurd. … If, in contemplating the mystery, reason sees only darkness, this is not because the mystery contains no light, rather because it contains too much. Just as when we turn our eyes directly to the sun, we see only shadow – who would say that the sun is not bright? Faith allows us to look at the ‘sun’ that is God, because it welcomes His revelation in history. … God has sought mankind and made Himself known, bringing Himself to the limits of human reason.
“At the same time, God, with His grace, illuminates reason and opens up new horizons, immeasurable and infinite. Therefore, faith is a continuous stimulus to seek, never to cease or acquiesce in the inexhaustible search for truth and reality. … Intellect and faith are not foreign or antagonistic to divine Revelation, they are both prerequisites for understanding its meaning, for receiving its authentic message, for approaching the threshold of the mystery. … The Catholic faith is therefore rational and also nurtures trust in human reason. … Knowledge of faith, furthermore, is not contrary to reason. … In the irresistible desire for truth, only a harmonious relationship between faith and reason can show the correct path to God and to self-fulfilment”.
Rebecca Taylor writes at National Catholic Register:
So why should Catholics care about transhumanism? What is so wrong with becoming a “post-human” anyway? Catholics need to care because transhumanism is an insidious philosophy that rejects the nature of humanity and our natural limitations. By rejecting the nature of man, transhumanism also rejects the inherent dignity of every human being in the process.
Pope Benedict XI addressed the Pontifical Academy of Sciences on Thursday, where the group was assembled for its Plenary Assembly. From the speech:
“Indeed, the significant discoveries and advances of recent years invite us to consider the great analogy of physics and biology which is clearly manifested every time that we achieve a deeper understanding of the natural order. If it is true that some of the new notions obtained in this way can also allow us to draw conclusions about processes of earlier times, this extrapolation points further to the great unity of nature in the complex structure of the cosmos and to the mystery of man’s place within it. The complexity and greatness of contemporary science in all that it enables man to know about nature has direct repercussions for human beings. Only man can constantly expand his knowledge of truth and order it wisely for his good and that of his environment. “
Thomas Martin Cothran writes at First Things:
“The first apologetic move Cusa makes is to show that, while naturalistic explanations can be true, they can only be partially true; they cannot, in principle, exclude explanations of another order. Cusa’s second move is to clarify the way in which God can be said to be the absolute Truth of the world—that is, the Logos.
This transition is critical for our current apologetic situation. Cusa does not argue that the existence of natural entities must be explained by a supernatural entity as in William Paley’s natural theology. Truth by its nature must be “prior to every foundation”; it must exceed finite concepts such as being and nothing, effable and ineffable, large and small, same and other. Any discomfort Christians may feel at Cusa’s insistence that God is not an entity and therefore that his existence can only be affirmed analogically, for Cusa, simply evinces the seductive power of paganism.”