Saturday, December 14, 2019

What is Man?

"IT is dangerous to make man see too clearly his equality with the brutes without showing him his greatness. It is also dangerous to make him see his greatness too clearly, apart from his vileness. It is still more dangerous to leave him in ignorance of both. But it is very advantageous to show him both. Man must not think that he is on a level with either the brutes or with the angels, nor must he be ignorant of both sides of his nature; but he must know both."

~ Blaise Pascal: Pensées No. 418

Vitruvian Man by Leonardo da Vinci

Anthropic Principle the Opposite of Anthropocentrism

“By space the universe encompasses and swallows me up like a dot; by thought I encompass the universe.” ―Pascal, Pensées No. 265

"THE ANTHROPIC PRINCIPLE, in itself, “merely states that the universe has from its earliest stage been on an evolutionary track along which alone was the emergence of man ultimately possible. The anthropic principle certainly does not mean that modern cosmology has shown the emergence of man to be a necessary outcome of the primordial mix. The anthropic principle is, however, certainly indicative of the extent to which man is able to conquer the universe by his knowledge of it. Yet this knowledge is so specifically objective as to constitute a proof that man cannot be conquered by the universe. Man certainly would suffer his worse defeat at the hands of the universe if it could be shown that what is known of the universe is merely man man’s imposing of his own stamp on reality. In this case the anthropic principle would be the highest form of anthropocentrism. Since anthropocentricism is the worst disservice to man, once harnessed in its service the anthropic principle would turn into a misanthropy principle. The specificity of the universe strongly discourages a view of the anthropic principle as the harbinger of anthropocentrism. . . . The anthropic principle has an all-important epistemological significance and carries by the same token a far-reaching message for an anthropology which has the courage to face head-on the question: what is man?”

~Fr. Stanley L. Jaki: “Angels, Apes, and Men,” Chap. III―Unconquerable Man. (1983)

An approximate timeline for the evolution of the universe
from the Big Bang to the present. From

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Newman: Religion and Science

"As to physical science, of course there can be no real collision between it and Catholicism. Nature and grace, reason and revelation, come from the same divine Author, Whose works cannot contradict each other."

~Cardinal Newman: Idea of a University, 9.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Five great Catholic scientists...

Fr. Stanley L. Jaki named by ALETEIA as one of five Catholic scientists that 'shaped our understanding of the world' 

"One challenged the idea that the earth was at the center of the universe. Another developed the theory of the Big Bang. One provided the foundation of modern genetics. The other was one of the greatest seismologists of his day. They were all great scientists as well as faithful Catholics. All but one were priests. One held dual doctorates in theology and physics. Here are five scientists who transformed their disciplines, revolutionized our understanding of the world, and demonstrated the harmony of faith and science in their works."

Continue reading this article at ALETEIA

Friday, June 21, 2019

What is the Purpose of it all?"

"BEFORE one can raise with C. S. Lewis the question, "What is the Purpose of it all?", one has to affirm that purposive act is a reality, an act inseparable from that conscious being which is man. Such an affirmation is indispensable if one is to consider the broader meaning of that question. It relates to much more than the purpose of the entire series of purposeful actions in an individual life. It implies even more than the purpose of all such series, that is, the purpose of mankind at large. It bears on the purpose of all living and of all that non-living material reality that makes life possible and is indeed an integral part of all life, non-conscious as well as conscious life.

"To answer that question one has therefore to answer the question about the sense in which the reality of purposeful conscious action can serve as a justification for seeing some evidence of purpose in non-conscious living organisms. To see that evidence one needs eyes different from the ones used in science. There, in ultimate analysis, one can see only measurable data, their correlations and their succession. When a scientist claims to see more, he uses the eyes of philosophy whether he knows this or not, or whether he admits it or not. Further, his use of those philosophical eyes cannot be justified by his seeing, measuring, and correlating data. The predicament of the biologist, as the one who, even more than a physicist, cannot think without philosophy, is well summed up in the now more than a century-old dictum: "Teleology is a lady without whom the biologist cannot live but with whom he would not appear in public." [E. von Brücke]  In spite of its close resemblance to theology, teleology, or the study of purposive or goal-directed activities, is philosophy. Whatever the possibility of exorcising theology from teleology, the philosophical nature of teleology cannot be changed by, say, Monod's tactic of replacing it with the word teleonomy."

~Stanley L. Jaki: Means to Message: A Treatise on Truth, Chap. 5.

Available at Real View Books

The Purpose of it All

Recommended Reading:

By Fr. Stanley L. Jaki

"What is the purpose of it all? Is an abiding sense of purpose assured by scientific and technological progress? Is biological evolution a carrier of purpose? What is the ultimate purpose of economic prosperity? These and similar questions turn up in most unexpected contexts. One such context was a blueribbon conference hosted in Moscow by the Soviet Academy of Sciences in June 1989. There a US Senator effusively praising free-market economy was stunned by a Soviet scholar's blunt question: "What is the purpose of life?" An answer to that question is offered in this book, the expanded version of eight lectures the author delivered in Oxford in November 1989. True to his reputation as an internationally acclaimed historian and philosopher of science, Professor Jaki, winner of the Templeton Prize for 1987, casts in a new mould the argument from design. In doing so he submits its traditional and modern forms, among them the anthropic principle and process philosophies, to penetrating criticism. He shows that both historically and conceptually the idea of purposeful progress is rooted in the biblical recognition of free will as a carrier of eternal responsibilities and prospects."

@ Real View Books  

Excerpt from the INTRODUCTION by Jaki:

"In making this book available again, after it had been out of print for ten years, I find it necessary to make more specific only one point. It relates to my further reflections on Darwinism as science, as distinct from philosophy [or, ideology]. Today I would emphasize more forcefully two factors which give the theory of evolution as proposed by Darwin and other Darwinists a truly scientific status. Those factors are the variability of offspring and of the environment. They can in principle be evaluated in quantitative terms, which is the indispensable condition for an intellectual to qualify as science, that is, exact science. Recent developments, known as the genome project, have made a tremendous progress concerning the first factor. The second factor remains very elusive to a fully quantitative analysis.

"Such are the scientific limits to evolutionary theory, which more than any other such theory implies a large number of philosophical considerations. These must stand or fall with their philosophical merits. The latter point is very much to be kept in mind, in respect to the so-called "intelligent design" argument constructed with an eye on biochemical data. While a very good case can be made in support of the contention that some biochemical processes connote a very high degree of improbability, this does not eliminate the fact that even the highest degree of improbability is not equivalent to impossibility. Champions of "intelligent design" invariably fail to show sufficient sensitivity to strictly philosophical questions. Among these is the one, amply discussed in this book, which relates to the extrapolation of one's immediate assurance of having a purpose and acting for a purpose to non-conscious biological processes. Unfortunately, those who take evolutionary theory for an ideology, indeed for the chief support of the religion which is secularism, are refractory to philosophical arguments. Even more is to be deplored that advocates of "intelligent design" show time and again a woeful lack of philosophical sensitivity."

℘ Visit Real View Books

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Intelligent Design

Hear two Catholic scientists, Dr. Stacy Trasancos and Dr. Michael Behe, debate Intelligent Design theory at Chronicles of Strength

In this conversation:

• What does Intelligent Design (ID) actually say about the theory of evolution?
• Is ID an argument from ignorance, or an inference to the best explanation?
• At what level is design obvious in nature?
• Is ID too narrow, or telling of something much greater?
• Can you settle the matter of design (or no design) apart from evolution?
• How do we best explain the complex structures and genetic codes we’ve discovered in life?
• Can Neo-Darwinian processes account for this?
 • What does “random” or “unguided” mean with respect to natural selection?
• Can “brute forces and matter” account for the structures and complexity we see in nature?