Monday, March 5, 2012

God, Science, and Getting a Grip

Long before I converted to Catholicism, I believed that God created this world. I was also fascinated by what science had been revealing about the scale and complexity of the universe: and saw no incongruity between worshiping God, and studying creation.

I've learned more about an old fracas among British gentlemen, so I understand more about why some folks believe that religion is against science. But that notion still seems silly. So does the idea that 'because the universe functions in predictable ways, there is no God.'

Living Among Wonders

Asserting that an orderly universe 'proves' the non-existence of an orderly God seems to make about as much sense as honoring God by deliberately cultivating ignorance of what He has created.

My attitude is a bit closer to this:
"The heavens declare the glory of God; the sky proclaims its builder's craft."
(Psalms 19:2)

"Beyond these, many things lie hid; only a few of his works have we seen.

"It is the LORD who has made all things, and to those who fear him he gives wisdom."
(Sirach 43:34-35)
By the way, that bit about fear comes up fairly often, including:
"The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the LORD, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding."
(Proverbs 9:10)
Fear of the Lord is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.1 Others are prudence, which isn't timidity or fear; and fortitude, which "enables one to conquer fear...." (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1806, 1808, 1831) All of which are involved in the virtues. (Catechism, 1803-1832) And that's another topic. Topics.

What God Makes, What We Make

'If God made the world, and cares, how come someone stole my pencil?'

It has to do with free will, secondary causes, and Providence. And those are a whole lot more topics. (Catechism, 1730-1731; 304, 306-308; 309-314)

I think a reasonable summary is that God created, and is creating, the world. Including us. God also gave us "the power, rooted in reason and will, to act or not to act, to do this or that, and so to perform deliberate actions on one's own responsibility." (Catechism, 1731)

Sometimes we use that power in constructive ways. Sometimes, not so much. But, since we do have that power, I think it would be silly to hit someone with a rock: and then blame the rock. Or God.

Studying God's Creation

Imagine yourself as a child, whose father makes furniture: including all the furniture in your house.

Would it make sense to avoid looking too closely at the furniture, or watching your father make furniture, for fear that you'd learn something terribly evil? Some folks grow up with abusive parents - and in that case, the answer might be 'yes.' Sadly. Yet more topics.

Many of us, though, probably wouldn't think that learning how Dad makes chairs would lead to damnation.

'It's not the same thing,' quite: but I think the same principle applies to studying the world we live in.

If God created everything, and God is good: learning about God's creation doesn't seem like a bad idea. What we do with what we learn - well, we've got free will.

Part of what the Catholic Church has to say:
"...the things of the world
and the things of faith
derive from the same God...
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159)

"...Science and technology are ordered to man, from whom they take their origin and development; hence they find in the person and in his moral values both evidence of their purpose and awareness of their limits."
(Catechism, 2293)
More, about God and living in His creation:
  • God
    • Created everything
      (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 268)
      • Out of nothing
        (Catechism, 296)
    • Didn't have to create anything
      (Catechism, 295)
    • Upholds and sustains what He created
      (Catechism, 301)
    • Is
      • Big
        • Putting it mildly
        (Catechism, 300)
      • All-powerful
        • But His power is not arbitrary
        (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 271)
  • Creation is
    • Good and ordered
      (Catechism, 299)
    • Being completed
      • It is "in a state of journeying"
        (Catechism, 302)
  • We're supposed to seek God
    (Catechism, 1)
  • We can learn some things about God by studying what He created
    (Catechism, 31-36, 282-289)
    • But God has revealed more about Himself than what's in creation
      (Catechism, 37-38)
Related posts:

1 A few words about knowledge and fear of the Lord:
"1 But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.

2 The spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him: a spirit of wisdom and of understanding, A spirit of counsel and of strength, a spirit of knowledge and of fear of the LORD,
(Isaiah 11:1-2)

"FEAR OF THE LORD: One of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit which ensures our awe and reverence before God (1831)"
(Glossary, Catechism of the Catholic Church)

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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.