Becklo/My Turn: Religion and science
I write in response to The Recorder’s Opinion Page (Feb. 24), which depicts in a political cartoon the age of enlightenment’s right of refusal to serve the anti-gay bigotry of certain religions, followed by Mr. Culleny’s invectives on the assault of reason by religion and its magical thinking on the creation of the universe.
My response refers to what has been a decade or more of “de facto” claims and provocations, which denigrate traditional religious thought and replace it with a template of conformism to the ideas of relativism and tolerance. This is coupled with the alleged fact-based interpretation of the origins of the universe without reference to a creator.
In responding as a Catholic, I must stipulate that I am not a spokesperson for the Roman Catholic Church, nor do I represent the thoughts and concerns of my Evangelical brothers and sisters. But there is a plethora of material from which to draw, as the church’s repository is rich with papal documents and research materials dealing with these issues.
As mentioned, one doesn’t have to go far in the Bible (Genesis) to find the origins of the universe and the origins of man, both in his original solitude and then in his completeness and complementariness as male and female.
In examination of the nature of the human person, you need go no further than John Paul II’s series of Wednesday Talks, which were later compiled into the book, “Theology of the Body,” a thorough anthropological and philosophical study of the origins of man. It is important to note that he continually reverts back to the beginning before the history of sin in man. It is within this premise that he discusses man’s relation to God and subsequent fall, which is the condition of man today. It is not in the scope of this letter to delve into all the particularities and nuances, as impressive as they are.
With regard to the perceptions of Mr. Culleny, I refer to some actual history of the church; specifically the creation of the Pontifical Academy of Science in 1936, in Rome, by Pope Pius XI. Its aim was to promote the progress of mathematical, physical and natural sciences in the study of related epistemological questions. The academy has a membership of many respected scientists. Interestingly, in his first speech to the academy, Pope Pius XI references Galileo as the most audacious hero of research.
Parenthetically, in 1758, the general prohibition against his works was lifted and in 1835 all references were deleted from the indexes of heresies.
Wikipedia also presents a long list of Catholic scientists throughout history who have advanced the cause and methods of science. Not mentioned in that list, but a fine example as well, is Fr. Andrew Pinsent, research director of the Oxford University Ian Ramsey Center for Science and Religion, and former physicist at CERN, which dedicates its research to how the universe was made, using the most powerful particle accelerators. His article on the website, Strange Notions, (dedicated to advancing dialogue between Catholics and atheists) titled “Cosmology and Creation” underscores the metaphysical element, which is the distinction between the eternal being of God and the contingent being of creatures. A profound separation occurs in the professed rationality and omniscient power of the creator in the call from nothingness to existence and the Darwinist insistence on chance and necessity; in other words, the irrational as the firmament of creation.
To conclude, the religious aptitude and the defenders of its truths have never been reticent in confronting the rigors of scientific inquiry with its adherence to revelation in Scripture. In fact, the conviction is that science will absolutely manifest its world view. “Ever since the creation of the world, His invisible attributes of eternal power and divinity have been able to be understood and perceived in what He has made. As a result, they have no excuse.” (Romans I: vs. 20)
Alan J. Becklo, a Gill resident, is a former chief probation officer with the Orange District Court and amateur philosopher.