Tuesday, November 20, 2018

"Science encourages legitimate human curiosity"

"SCIENCE encourages legitimate human curiosity to know the universe and to admire and contemplate it's beauty and goodness. In this way we enter into communion with God himself, who looked upon what he created and saw that it was very good."

~Pope John Paul II: Discourse to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences," Sept. 26, 1986.

"Troubles gathering below the horizon"

"UNDOUBTEDLY, the history of the Church shows some splendid phases. One of them was the phase running from about 1860 to 1960. It was a phase of unusual cohesion in the Church. Just before it got under way Newman could already register that "never was the whole body of the faithful so united to each other and to their head. Never was their a time when there was less error, heresy, and schismatical perverseness among them." But in the same breath he also saw troubles gathering "below the horizon." In fact during the last twenty-five years of his life, he repeatedly voiced his apprehension about a very trying phase to come in Church history."

~Stanley L. Jaki: "Peter's Chair: A Professional Chair?" in The Gist of Catholicism and Other Essays.

"The essential mark of tyranny"

"MEN DO NOT rebel against the old; rather they rebel against the new. They turn upon something when they find that it has them in a trap. They do not revolt against something that has been unpopular. They revolt (and very rightly) against something that has been popular. They hated Charles I. because they had loved Elizabeth. They killed Louis XVI. because they had been killed for Louis XIV. In fact, this is probably what is meant by that seemingly meaningless phrase, the fickleness of the mob. It probably means that the mob is quicker than other people in discovering that man has walked into a man-trap. England went mad with joy for the English Monarchy, because the Armada had not conquered England. And then England suddenly went mad with rage because it discovered that (during that exciting interlude) the English Monarchy had conquered England. We had escaped the snare of Philip; we walked into the snare of Elizabeth; we broke out of the snare of Charles I.

"This is the essential mark of tyranny: that it is always new. Tyranny always enters by the unguarded gate. The tyrant is always shy and unobtrusive. The tyrant is always a traitor. He has always come there on the pretence that he was protecting something which the people really wanted protected -- religion, or public justice, or patriotic. Men staring at the Armada did not watch the King; so they strengthened the King. Later when they watched the King they unconsciously strengthened the aristocracy. Again, when they attacked the aristocracy, they did not watch the big merchants who were attacking it -- and who wanted watching. All tyrannies are new tyrannies. There are no such things really as old tyrannies; there are hardly any such things as old superstitions.

"For instance, the decorous Victorian woman is hardly as old as Victoria; she is much newer than Sophia Weston, or Portia, or Rosalind. You do not know a tyranny until it is on top of you; until it has you in a trap. The tyrant is not present until he is omnipresent. There is one moral to these evident facts of history. When you look for tyrants, do not look for them among the obvious types that have oppressed men in the past -- the king, the priest, or the soldier. If you do you are merely looking at the Spanish Armada while England is being turned into a despotism behind your back. Monarchy was once a popular organ; yet it was turned against the people. Remember that newspapers are popular organs that may be turned against the people. Whatever the new tyrant is, he will not wear the exact uniform of the old tyrant. The new tyrant may wear any uniform; he may wear the beard of Dorie or the skirts of Mrs. Eddy. But if you ask me, I think it most likely that the new tyrant will wear the uniform of an ordinary prison official announcing that the sentence of 7845 had better be prolonged."

~G.K. Chesterton: "A Theory of Tyrants." In 'The Daily News,' June 13, 1908.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

"Be sure that the longer you live..."

"FOR only the truly virtuous could understand Newman about a paradoxical feature of spiritual life, which he set forth in the sermon on "Shrinking from Christ's Coming." The more one prayed to see Christ and longed for His coming, the more one felt one's uncleanness and became apprehensive about that coming. Moreover, clean in one sense never become: "If by 'clean,' you mean free from that infection of nature, the least drop of which is sufficient to dishonour all your services, clean you never will be till you have paid the debt of sin, and lose that body which Adam has begotten." And now Newman lifted a bit of the veil of that drama: "Be sure that the longer you live, and the holier you become, you will only perceive that misery more clearly.""

~Stanley L. Jaki: Newman's Challenge, Ch. 2--A Gentleman and Original Sin.

Newman's Challenge

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“The universe is a single jewel…”

WHILE INDIVIDUAL STARS showed a great variety of motion, such was not the evidence that began to accrue from the early 1910s on about spiral galaxies. By and large their spectra showed a red shift indicative of recessional velocity. In the early 1920s this could mean that those galaxies might not be permanently subordinate parts of the Milky Way. In other words, the mini-universe revealed itself as possibly being in the process of fragmentation, the very opposite to what a universe has to be. Also, the Milky Way itself had to be removed from its exalted status as the main part of that mini-universe to one among tens of thousands of spiral galaxies. This happened when around 1924 Hubble observed Cepheid variables in the Andromeda nebula which allowed him to establish its true distance and size. The distance turned out to be two million light years, or twenty times the diameter of the Milky Way. This showed the Andromeda nebula to be roughly equal in size to the Milky Way, and a true rival to the supposedly chief body in the visible universe.

But when the observable or mini-universe had to be divided into tens of thousands of equally big parts and cease thereby to appear as a coherent whole, another development came to the rescue of cosmic coherence. The result was nothing short of dramatic in that it gave an unsuspectedly precise grasp of the universe itself. The major breakthrough in cosmology occurred when in 1927 the Abbé Lemaître derived from Einstein’s cosmological equations the expansion of the universe and correlated that rate with data on galactic red-shifts already available. Lemaître’s conclusion should seem especially daring when contrasted with the diffidence with which Hubble and Humason published, about that time, their first analysis of those red-shifts. Even four years later, with many more data on hand, they voiced their constraint “to describe that ‘apparent velocity-displacements’ without venturing on the interpretation and its cosmological significance.” Yet the velocity-distance law contained not only the revolutionary implication that the whole universe is subject to an over-all dynamics of expansion, but also that far back in the cosmic past all thing, or the universe, had to be a very small thing.

This latter point found its first elaboration in Lemaître’s famous hypothesis of the early universe as a “primitive atom.” He did not, however, seize on the principal philosophical opportunity which this view of the universe offered. Not that the exploitation of that view demanded scientific expertise or professional training in philosophy. What was demanded could have conceivably been found in those Catholic and Thomistic circles in which Lemaître moved. Yet even in those circles where Chesterton had for some time been eagerly read, no attention was given to his most penetrating analysis of scientific laws, widely available in his Orthodoxy, first published in 1908. It also contained what in view of the late-20th-century developments in scientific cosmology should pass for a profound anticipation of their very gist:

The universe is a single jewel and while it is a natural cant to talk of a jewel as peerless and priceless, of this jewel of the cosmos it is literally true. This cosmos is indeed without peer and price; for there cannot be another one.” (‘Orthodoxy’)

But if the universe was to reveal convincingly what precious things reveal in their smallness, namely, its exceedingly specific features, its expanding motion had to be followed up in the reverse direction.

~Stanley L. Jaki: God And The Cosmologists, Chap. Two—Nebulosity Dissipated.

God and the Cosmologists

Available at Real View Books

Big Bang theory renamed

Fr. George Lemaître

Astronomers voted overwhelmingly to give Fr. George Lemaître the recognition many believe he deserves

The membership of the International Astronomical Union has voted to recommend that the name of a Belgian Catholic priest be added to the astronomical law explaining the expansion of the universe, or “Big Bang.”

Using an electronic voting system, the IAU passed a resolution to recommend renaming the “Hubble law” as the Hubble–Lemaître Law.

The law had been named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble, although Fr. Georges Lemaître, a Belgian astronomer and priest, in 1927 first discovered the expanding universe—which also suggests a “Big Bang,” according to Science.

*Continue reading this article here.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

"Mechanistic ideology"

“THE widespread taking of mechanistic physics for the truth of a mechanistic philosophy proved to be, so warned no less a physicist than W. Heitler, “a superstition far more dangerous than the one about the existence of witches: It leads to a general spiritual and moral drying-up which can easily lead to physical destruction. When once we have got to the stage of seeing in man merely a complex machine, what does it matter if we destroy him?” In another context Heitler praised Dostoevski for foreseeing a global destruction as a consequence of the mechanistic ideology spawned by misguided reflection on science throughout the 19th-century.”

Stanley L. Jaki: The Purpose of it All, Chap. 6—Heuristics of Purpose.