Saturday, January 31, 2009

Faith, Science, and the Year of Astronomy

In commemoration of the 400-year anniversary of Galileo’s first discoveries, this year has been declared the International Year of Astronomy. While the Catholic Church has been branded as un-scientific because of her role in the unfortunate demise of Galileo, the Church is nevertheless celebrating astronomy with everyone else. Most people don’t know this, but for centuries the Catholic Church helped fund scientific discoveries and many of the great scientists were Catholics. Copernicus, the guy who proposed what Galileo was supposedly killed for, was a devout Catholic and some historians believe he was even a Catholic priest. Why wasn’t he silenced, too?

For one reason, he, unlike Galileo, believed in miracles.

Galileo believed in a closed system – that God created the universe and has no interaction with it. This view, similar to Deism, denied the incarnation, the bible, and any miracles. In other words, it was directly opposed to Christianity and the Catholic Church. This may lead one to ask: doesn’t science oppose religion all the time? Well, no. Science can tell us all about the world God has created. Each and every discovery should lead us to wondering more and more about, while leading us to praise, the God who made everything from nothing. Remember after all, “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:2).

One Catholic author commented on scientific discovery during the times of Galileo: “The empowering of human vision [through telescopes] stimulated artists, writers and theologians. As the eyes of the body were enhanced, so could man look to enhance his eyes of faith. That which had been invisible was now visible, reinforcing the idea that the invisible world of angels and the Real Presence was there, simply out of reach to mortal eyes. Discovery didn’t bring fear of contradiction; it brought a promise of knowing more.”

Today, however, secularist politicians and scientists seek no harmony with faith but rather see faith as a wall against what they see as progress. They will stop at nothing to keep their lives comfortable – not even at killing unborn embryonic human beings. The same author from above looks at “progress” and “cures” from Obama’s agenda and from another politician 1700 years ago:

[Obama] spoke of the many errors and wrongs of the previous years and in his platform of change he vowed that “We will restore science to its rightful place.” What is this rightful place? We found out soon enough.

The next day the new U.S. president lifted the Bush administration’s ban on embryonic stem cell testing. The inevitable conclusion is that for Obama, the “rightful place” of science is above ethics, morals and life itself. While once the domain of the laboratory, today some would raise it to the altar. With this carte blanche to scientific research at the expense of human life, the prospects for the future of ethics in science look grim indeed.

Oddly enough, a 13th-century “Golden Legend” contains a similar story. Emperor Constantine, afflicted with leprosy, had tried every known remedy without success. He was assured that the only sure cure would be to bathe in the blood of newborn infants, as their pure blood would restore his withered flesh.

As 3,000 infants were gathered for his cure, the emperor shrank before the prospect of such violence. He declared that “the honor of the Roman people is born of the font of piety. Piety gave us the law by which anyone who kills a child in war shall incur the sentence of death. What cruelty it would be, therefore if we did to our own children what we are forbidden to do to our enemies!”

That night, Sts. Peter and Paul told Constantine in a dream to go to Rome and find Pope Sylvester to be cured. Pope Sylvester told him that the best way to relieve his sufferings was baptism. In accepting the sacrament of baptism, Constantine was cured.

While this is pious legend, it is interesting to note that the worst cruelty imaginable in Constantine’s world was to sacrifice infants to save the life of a man, as well as the horror expressed at the lengths one would go for a “miracle cure.” What some call progress, others might call regress.

Check out the full article here!

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