Saturday, June 9, 2012

The World isn't Flat

I've been writing about why I think having babies is okay, and why I think families are important. That involves a bit of science and statistics, so maybe I'd better explain something else first.

I'm a practicing Catholic. I take my Lord, Sacred Scripture, and the authority Jesus gave Peter very seriously. I also am about as certain as I can be that the world is:
  • Not flat
  • More than 6,000 years old
    • A lot more
  • Big
    • Really big
I even think that Earth goes around the sun, not the other way around. Even though thinking that is 'un-Biblical.' (Joshua 10:12-13) I've posted about why I don't use the Bible as a science text, or for computer maintenance, before:

Science and Religion

Somewhere around the middle of the 19th century, folks got the notion that religion was against science, and vice versa. (March 14, 2012) I don't think it makes sense to cultivate ignorance of God's creation. Happily, being a Catholic, I don't have to.
"...the things of the world
and the things of faith
derive from the same God...
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 159)

"...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)

"...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)
Here's a very quick overview of how I see God and the visible world:
  • 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)
  • The universe is beautiful
    • And may be studied
    Catechism of the Catholic Church, 341)
  • Honest research can't contradict faith
    • Because God made the universe
    (Catechism, 159)
  • God created/is creating - everything
    (Catechism, 279, 301, 302-305)
  • It's faith and reason
    (Catechism, 50, 156-159)
    (May 15, 2012, March 5, 2012)
I could compare the awesome scale of creation to depictions of some white-haired dude, but that would be silly on several levels. (May 2, 2012)

By the way, cluelessness isn't limited to religious Luddites. Decades back, I ran into the assertion that God couldn't be all-powerful and all-knowing: because 'Hell could literally break out' someplace and - get this - God wouldn't know about it until light from the event reached Him. (January 25, 2012)

I'm quite willing to accept creation 'as is,' together with the idea that God is infinite:
"God is infinitely greater than all his works: 'You have set your glory above the heavens.'156 Indeed, God's 'greatness is unsearchable.'157 But because he is the free and sovereign Creator, the first cause of all that exists, God is present to his creatures' inmost being: 'In him we live and move and have our being.'158 In the words of St. Augustine, God is 'higher than my highest and more inward than my innermost self.'159"
(Catechism, 300)

Faith and Reason

A year or so ago, I ran into the quip that "if Vulcans had a religion, they'd be Catholics." By the time I got back to the online forum where I saw it, the comment was gone. It probably won't make sense to folks who aren't "Star Trek" fans, anyway.

The point is that the Catholic Church takes logic and reason seriously. Maybe you've run into caricatures of Christian churches in fiction, with weird names like 'Pastor Billy-Bob Bombast and his First Halleluiah Church.'

Maybe you've run into their real-world counterparts: sincere, manic sects with an abundance of enthusiasm - and little else.

I like enthusiastic worship. If getting an emotional 'fix' were all I expected from a religion, I might have joined a succession of that sort of outfit, moving on when the thrill was gone.

Since I insist on what I believe making sense, I became a Catholic, and that's another topic.

As a practicing Catholic, I'm encouraged to use my brain. Reasoned thought is part of being Catholic:
"By natural reason man can know God with certainty, on the basis of his works. But there is another order of knowledge, which man cannot possibly arrive at by his own powers: the order of divine Revelation.1..."
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, 50)

"By his reason, man recognizes the voice of God which urges him 'to do what is good and avoid what is evil.'9 Everyone is obliged to follow this law, which makes itself heard in conscience and is fulfilled in the love of God and of neighbor. Living a moral life bears witness to the dignity of the person."
(Catechism, 1706)
Maybe you've known a Catholic who's anything but reasonable. Of the 1,000,000,000 or so of us alive today, very few are paragons of excellence; some of us are really bad examples of what a Catholic should be; and I'm pretty sure that we're all 'works in progress.'

This post is the first in a series of four:
  1. "The World isn't Flat"
    (June 9, 2012)
  2. "Catholics, Families, and Hope"
    (June 9, 2012)
  3. "Population Explosion, Birth Dearth, and a Changing World"
    (June 9, 2012)
  4. "Taking Life a Thousand Years at a Time"
    (June 10, 2012)
Other related posts:


Brigid said...

Your fingers stuttered: "It's It's faith and reason"

I think there's a word missing: "The point that the Catholic Church takes logic and reason seriously. "

The Friendly Neighborhood Proofreader

Brian Gill said...


Right you are. Thanks!

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