Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The Beauty of the Universe, God, and Respect

I got back to the Catechism today, picking up at "The beauty of the universe...." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 341)

There's more, about the diversity of beings and the relationships between them producing order and harmony. All of which we can observe, discovering them as the laws of nature. The paragraph ends with:
"...The beauty of creation reflects the infinite beauty of the Creator and ought to inspire the respect and submission of man's intellect and will."
(Catechism, 341)
That phrase, "ought to inspire," jumped out at me.

In some circles, acknowledging God's place as creator is unfashionable. And has been for generations. Other folks don't have a problem with the idea that God created the universe: but they don't seem to approve of the Almighty's decision to make creation so big and old.

Respect, Submission, and Beauty

When it comes to respect and submission? I suspect that's not so easy to accept. But that's guesswork on my part. Romans 2:1-11, and I've been over that before.

Then there was the fad for bug-ugly 'art.' I suspect that was tied in with an odd notion that G. K. Chesterton mentioned:
"By a curious confusion, many modern critics have passed from the proposition that a masterpiece may be unpopular to the other proposition that unless it is unpopular it cannot be a masterpiece."
("On Detective Novels," Generally Speaking: a Book of Essays, London: Methuen (1928) via "Quotations of G. K. Chesterton," The American Chesterton Society)
(and see National Library of Australia Catalog)
I'm getting off-topic. Anyway, I've been over this before:

"... From the Same God ..."

Before getting into the next paragraph, here's a realty check from earlier in the Catechism:
"...the things of the world

and the things of faith

derive from the same God....

(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159)
Some folks don't want to believe that God exists. I don't think that's a good idea: and that's another topic. For dedicated secularists, the scale of creation doesn't seem to be a problem.

Then there are folks who acknowledge the existence of God: but don't seem to approve of the size of God's creation. Over the last century, it's gotten increasingly difficult to ignore data about this incredible universe.

One of the more ingenious work-arounds I've run into for staying true to the world of Ussher is the notion that God created the world a few thousand years back - and planted false clues, to make wicked scientists go to Hell.

As the premise for a fantasy story, that sort of malicious trickster might make an intriguing character. As something to take seriously? I pass. I really don't think it's likely that God planted intellectual booby traps.

Hierarchy, Creatures, and God

"The hierarchy of creatures is expressed by the order of the 'six days,' from the less perfect to the more perfect...."
(Catechism, 342)
There's a lesson here, but it's not about paleontology. And that's another topic:

The Bible and Me

Do I 'believe in the Bible?' Yes. I'm a practicing Catholic. I have to accept Sacred Scripture. Reading the Bible is high priority, too:
"The Church 'forcefully and specifically exhorts all the Christian faithful . . . to learn "the surpassing knowledge of Jesus Christ," by frequent reading of the divine Scriptures. "Ignorance of the Scriptures is ignorance of Christ." ' "
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 133)
(from January 27, 2009)
Gung-ho secularists and others notwithstanding, the Catholic Church doesn't encourage ignorance.

"Six Days," Metaphor, and Culture

The Bible wasn't written by an American. I think we're one of the more metaphor-free cultures that's been around. Show an American "six," and we're likely to assume that it's the integer between five and seven. And nothing more.

Here's a footnote to the first chapter of Genesis:
"In ancient Israel a day was considered to begin at sunset. According to the highly artificial literary structure of ⇒ Genesis 1:1-⇒ 2:4a, God's creative activity is divided into six days to teach the sacredness of the sabbath rest on the seventh day in the Israelite religion (⇒ Genesis 2:2-3)."
(footnote 3, Genesis 1) [emphasis mine]
Moving on.

How We Fit In

"...God loves all his creatures209 and takes care of each one, even the sparrow. Nevertheless, Jesus said: 'You are of more value than many sparrows,' or again: 'Of how much more value is a man than a sheep!'210"
(Catechism, 342)
From there, the Catechism gets into humanity's position in creation. Basically, we're a special case: at the top, which doesn't mean that God told us to go forth and strip-mine the world.

And that's yet another topic, for another post.

Related posts:


Brigid said...

Missing period: "God planted intellectual booby traps"

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Oops, fixed, and thanks!

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What's That Doing in a Nice Catholic Blog?

From time to time, a service that I use will display links to - odd - services and retailers.

I block a few of the more obvious dubious advertisers.

For example: psychic anything, numerology, mediums, and related practices are on the no-no list for Catholics. It has to do with the Church's stand on divination. I try to block those ads.

Sometime regrettable advertisements get through, anyway.

Bottom line? What that service displays reflects the local culture's norms, - not Catholic teaching.