Wednesday, February 5, 2014

2 + 2 = 4, Therefore … : Getting a Grip about Faith and Science

The notion that the Bible is supposed to tell us everything about the world boiled over in the mid-19th century.

Most of the sound and fury against 'un-Biblical' ideas has been focused on science: particularly the "religion of the Antichrist," evolution.

Heathen Numerals and 'End Times Bible Prophecies'

(Oakland Blog, via SFGate, used w/o permission)

It could have been worse. Someone might have claimed that because two and two equals four, God cannot exist: and we'd have folks demanding that Satanic arithmetic be banned from schools.

I don't think that two plus to equals four proves that God does exist, but I don't refuse to believe in multiplication because there isn't a multiplication table in the Bible. I'm not even outraged by today's Hindu-Arabic numerals.

Maybe someone's stitched together Revelation 2:10, Luke 15:4, Isaiah 60:22: proving to his satisfaction that multiplication and a base ten numbering system are "Biblical."

Somehow, coming up with 'End Times Bible Prophecies' seems to be a male preoccupation. Maybe it has something to do with Y chromosomes and the corpus callosum, and that's another topic. Topics.

Oddly enough, I've never encountered someone who refused to use the symbols 0 through 9, despite their 'heathen' origins. Yet more topics.

Newfangled Ideas and the Papist Peril

Folks getting upset about newfangled ideas is nothing new.

About eight centuries back, some European scholars realized that we might be living in a really big universe. Others insisted that there couldn't be other worlds: because Aristotle said so. In 1277, the Church stepped in: and ever since, claiming that we must be standing on the only world has been against the rules for Catholics.

Telling God what He can't do seems silly, at best: and the same principle can be applied to searching for life in the universe. My opinion. I'll get back to that in another post.

Roughly three and a half centuries back, a Calvinist fired back at new ideas with a well-researched bit of Biblical scholarship. His chronology placed the moment of creation at nightfall before October 23, 4004 BC.

The Ussher chronology is still with us. A remarkable number of Catholics fervently support the 17th-century Calvinist's timetable. They may be unaware that Ussher also worked hard to protect Christians from 'papists:'
"The religion of the papists is superstitious and idolatrous; their faith and doctrine erroneous and heretical; their church in respect of both, apostatical; to give them therefore a toleration, or to consent that they may freely exercise their religion, and profess their faith and doctrine, is a grievous sin."
("James Ussher," Primate of All Ireland, Wikipedia)
If Ussher had been right about creation's age, accepting his timetable would make sense. Evidence that Earth is much more than six millennia old was mounting in the 18th century, so I don't agree: but I'm a papist, and Ussher warned folks about my sort. Moving on.

Science and Common Sense

(From, via Google Developers, Google+, used w/o permission.)

I don't think God is a liar. Even if I did, it wouldn't matter, because I also believe that God created the universe I live in: and defined what is real and what isn't.

Since I believe that God is truth, and that truth cannot contradict truth, I must also believe that studying what God created is okay. (Catechism, 144, 159)

That's not just my opinion. Pope Paul VI wrote that honest scientific research can't get in the way of faith, since faith and the physical world both come from God:
"...Therefore if methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God...."
(36., "Gaudium et Spes," Pope Paul VI (December 7, 1965); via Internet Office of the Holy See)
Thomas Aquinas said that truth cannot contradict truth, by the way.

Second Vatican Council: Real and Imagined

The second Vatican council (II Vatican Council) happened in 1965. I was in my mid-teens at the time, worshiping in the mainstream Protestant church I grew up in: and trying to make sense of a changing world.

The '60s were a distressing decade for folks who liked the status quo. The second Vatican council didn't introduce new dogmas, or forbid anything new: but it did acknowledge that the 20th century presented new challenges, and opportunities. Some American Catholics decided that the Holy See was wrong: and set up their own little churches.

"Gaudium et Spes" is one of the four Constitutions of II Vatican. I suspect that Pope Paul VI's failure to condemn science helped convince some tightly-wound American Catholics that the second Vatican council was a mistake: and that their little circle of acquaintances were the only "real" Catholics left.

As I've said before, Catholics aren't Calvinists. But some of us get our native culture and Church teachings confused. America's default Christian beliefs are, arguably, Calvinist: and it's often easier to go along with cultural norms.

Some American priests — and, sadly, bishops — decided that II Vatican Council gave them artistic license to remodel their churches and rewrite the Mass. The results were almost as accurate a reflection of the council's documents as the Three Stooges' portrayal of American jurisprudence. (January 19, 2014)

I'm not happy about some changes in American culture: but I most certainly do not want a return to the "good old days." My memory's too good for that.

"Happy days" America was nice for men who looked and acted sufficiently WASPish to get by in a booming post-war economy, and that's yet again another topic.

"The Religion of the Antichrist"

I take my faith very seriously. The Bible, Sacred Scripture, is an important part of that faith. (Catechism, 101-133)

I read and study the Bible regularly, and have read it cover-to-cover. That last took quite a long time. But I don't believe that it's a science textbook: or a computer manual. (January 14, 2011)

I also take the Antichrist seriously - to a point. The "religion of the Antichrist" that I'm concerned about is a "...pseudo-messianism by which man glorifies himself in place of God...." (1 John 2:18; 2 John:7; Catechism, 675)

Putting myself, or humanity, or anything else that is not God, in God's place is idolatry: and a profoundly bad idea. (Catechism, 2097, 2112-2114)

My faith doesn't depend on science: but it's not threatened by knowledge. If anything, what we're learning about the scale of this universe encourages even deeper reverence for its Creator.

Finally, here's a longer excerpt from II Vatican council's "Gaudium et Spes:"
"...Therefore if methodical investigation within every branch of learning is carried out in a genuinely scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, it never truly conflicts with faith, for earthly matters and the concerns of faith derive from the same God. Indeed whoever labors to penetrate the secrets of reality with a humble and steady mind, even though he is unaware of the fact, is nevertheless being led by the hand of God, who holds all things in existence, and gives them their identity. Consequently, we cannot but deplore certain habits of mind, which are sometimes found too among Christians, which do not sufficiently attend to the rightful independence of science and which, from the arguments and controversies they spark, lead many minds to conclude that faith and science are mutually opposed...."
(36., "Gaudium et Spes," Pope Paul VI (December 7, 1965); via Internet Office of the Holy See)
Related posts:

No comments:

Like it? Pin it, Plus it, - - -

Pinterest: My Stuff, and More


Unique, innovative candles

Visit us online:
Spiral Light CandleFind a Retailer
Spiral Light Candle Store

Popular Posts

Label Cloud

1277 abortion ADD ADHD-Inattentive Adoration Chapel Advent Afghanistan Africa America Amoris Laetitia angels animals annulment Annunciation anti-catholicism Antichrist apocalyptic ideas apparitions archaeology architecture Arianism art Asperger syndrome assumptions asteroid astronomy Australia authority balance and moderation baptism being Catholic beliefs bias Bible Bible and Catechism bioethics biology blogs brain Brazil business Canada capital punishment Caritas in Veritate Catechism Catholic Church Catholic counter-culture Catholicism change happens charisms charity Chile China Christianity Christmas citizenship climate change climatology cloning comets common good common sense Communion community compassion confirmation conscience conversion Corpus Christi cosmology creation credibility crime crucifix Crucifixion Cuba culture dance dark night of the soul death depression designer babies despair detachment devotion discipline disease diversity divination Divine Mercy divorce Docetism domestic church dualism duty Easter economics education elections emotions England entertainment environmental issues Epiphany Establishment Clause ethics ethnicity Eucharist eugenics Europe evangelizing evolution exobiology exoplanets exorcism extremophiles faith faith and works family Father's Day Faust Faustus fear of the Lord fiction Final Judgment First Amendment forgiveness Fortnight For Freedom free will freedom fun genetics genocide geoengineering geology getting a grip global Gnosticism God God's will good judgment government gratitude great commission guest post guilt Haiti Halloween happiness hate health Heaven Hell HHS hierarchy history holidays Holy Family Holy See Holy Spirit holy water home schooling hope humility humor hypocrisy idolatry image of God images Immaculate Conception immigrants in the news Incarnation Independence Day India information technology Internet Iraq Ireland Israel Italy Japan Jesus John Paul II joy just war justice Kansas Kenya Knights of Columbus knowledge Korea language Last Judgment last things law learning Lent Lenten Chaplet life issues love magi magic Magisterium Manichaeism marriage martyrs Mary Mass materialism media medicine meditation Memorial Day mercy meteor meteorology Mexico Minnesota miracles Missouri moderation modesty Monophysitism Mother Teresa of Calcutta Mother's Day movies music Muslims myth natural law neighbor Nestorianism New Year's Eve New Zealand news Nietzsche obedience Oceania organization original sin paleontology parish Parousia penance penitence Pentecost Philippines physical disability physics pilgrimage politics Pope Pope in Germany 2011 population growth positive law poverty prayer predestination presumption pride priests prophets prostitution Providence Purgatory purpose quantum entanglement quotes reason redemption reflections relics religion religious freedom repentance Resurrection robots Roman Missal Third Edition rosaries rules sacramentals Sacraments Saints salvation schools science secondary causes SETI sex shrines sin slavery social justice solar planets soul South Sudan space aliens space exploration Spain spirituality stem cell research stereotypes stewardship stories storm Sudan suicide Sunday obligation superstition symbols technology temptation terraforming the establishment the human condition tolerance Tradition traffic Transfiguration Transubstantiation travel Trinity trust truth uncertainty United Kingdom universal destination of goods vacation Vatican Vatican II veneration vengeance Veterans Day videos virtue vlog vocations voting war warp drive theory wealth weather wisdom within reason work worship writing

Marian Apparition: Champion, Wisconsin

Background:Posts in this blog: In the news:

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.