Tuesday, October 24, 2017

John Paul II: On the limits of natural science

Pope St. John Paul II
“TO DESIRE a scientific proof of God would be equivalent to lowering God to the level of the beings of our world, and we would therefore be mistaken methodologically in regard to what God is. Science must recognize its limits and its inability to reach the existence of God: it can neither affirm nor deny his existence.”

(L’Osservatore Romano, 7-15-85, Italian edition)

 “ANY SCIENTIFIC hypothesis on the origin of the world, such as the hypothesis of a primitive atom from which derived the whole of the physical universe, leaves open the problem concerning the universe’s beginning. Science cannot of itself solve this question: there is needed above all that human knowledge that rises above physics and astrophysics and which is called metaphysics; there is needed above all the knowledge that comes from God’s revelation.”

(The Discourses of the Popes from Pius XI to John Paul II to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences 1936-1986, p. 82.)

~Pope St. John Paul II 

Sunday, October 22, 2017

"The enthusiasm for Darwinism"

“The enthusiasm for Darwinism of the advocates of the dictatorship of the proletariat and of a master race is all too understandable. Marx was quick to notice the usefulness of Darwinist theory for promoting class struggle, and Hitler volubly echoed Darwinist views very popular among German military leaders prior to the First World War as justification of their and his plans.”

~Stanley Jaki: Cosmos and Creator. 

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Genesis 1: A Cosmogenesis?

Reprinted from the August/September 1993 issue of Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Genesis 1: A Cosmogenesis?

“Nihil pulchrius Genesi, nihil utilius.” Nothing more beautiful than Genesis, nothing more useful.

Genesis 1 is the most newsworthy chapter in the Bible. There can never be more fundamental news than that all depends on God because he made all, indeed the all, or the universe. This news did not come from any of the sages of ancient cultures. Genesis 1 is the most memorable source of that news, though in a way which has been all too often taken for a confrontation with news science seems to provide about the origin of the universe. Legion is the number of exegetes and theologians who in modern scientific times wanted to appear more newsworthy by showing that there is an agreement, a concordance, between the majestic diction of Genesis 1 and the science of the day.

The latest frenzy along these lines was sparked by the news, disclosed at the Spring 1992 meeting of the American Physical Society, that irregularities were discovered in the 2.7°K cosmic background radiation through a satellite in charge of COBE, or “COsmic Background Experiment.” The discovery merely filled a gap in an already impressive evidence about the so-called Big Bang theory of cosmic development.

The term Big Bang may mistakenly suggest that it is about the absolute origin or beginning of things. Rather, it is merely about the fact that science can trace cosmic processes to 15 or so billion years back in the past and that the farther back into the past those processes are traced, the more crowded upon one another they are found to be. At that distant point all matter existed in the form of an extremely condensed radiation. Does this mean that Moses, or whoever wrote Genesis 1, received an early revelation about the 2.7°K cosmic background radiation or about Maxwell’s equations of electro magnetics?

However, really serious questions arise. If one gives a scientific twist to “Let there be light,” then consistency demands that the same be done through the rest of Genesis 1. One should then answer scientifically the following questions: How could the earth, a planet, come before the sun? How could plants, which live on photosynthesis, thrive prior to the sun’s appearance? What constituted the outer confines of the upper and lower waters? Last but not least, in what sense can the firmament, produced on the second day, be an object of science?

Read the complete essay at Homiletic & Pastoral Review

Monday, October 9, 2017

"The existence of God"

"For reasons inherent in the method of physical science, no watertight proof of the existence of God can be built on its data and conclusions. But this also meant that no refutation of the existence of God could be built on physics either."

~S.L. Jaki: in The Absolute Beneath the Relative and Other Essays.

"Shortsighted humanists"

"... investing science with a prophetic and messianic role has not been the doing of science. Exact science, or rather its best cultivators, have never claimed that role. Exact physical science came into its own when during the seventeenth century it eliminated from its ken questions about existence, meaning, purpose, and the like. No wonder that sensitive physicists instinctively reject appeals from shortsighted humanists to do science in a so-called meaningful, or prophetic way. The cultivation of that meaningfulness is the business of the philosophy of being, or metaphysics, and of religion, if one wants to go even further. This is not to suggest that science is not full of philosophical presuppositions. But philosophy as such is not a direct part of the scientific strategy of exploring what can be known quantitatively about nature and existence."

~Stanley L. Jaki: in Chance or Reality and Other Essays.