Given from the Catholic Broadcasting Station 2SM Sydney Australia
Choose a topic from Vol 2:
If a Catholic scientist used those words with the idea that Catholic doctrine conflicts with science or reason, then either he knew very little of science, or very little of his religion. Instead of adopting the precaution of separate pockets, he should have adopted the precaution of studying a little more deeply either his science or his faith, when he would have found that there is no conflict between science rightly understood and his religion rightly understood.
That is certainly not true. Lord Rayleigh, in a presidential address to the British Association quite recently, said, "The scientific worker knows in his heart that underneath the theories which he constructs there lie contradictions which he cannot reconcile." Professor J. B. S. Haldane writes, "I certainly do not believe all that Darwin wrote, all that Wells, Russell, and Hogben write. Worse still, 1 do not believe all that I myself have written." He also says, "Much of what passes for scientific psychology seems to me profoundly unscientific. The same is true of eugenics, criminology, and many other ologies." There is not a real scientist who would not laugh at the suggestion that scientists are able to demonstrate beyond doubt all that they say. Many professing scientists have the unfortunate knack of saying that some things are true beyond all doubt, although they are quite unable to demonstrate them. And it is a matter of historical fact that they have had to unsay such things again and again when what they have asserted has been proved false, or what they have denied has been proved true.
Such a choice will never confront a Catholic. Should there seem to be a conflict, he knows that he has either wrongly conceived a doctrine to be part of the Catholic faith, or else he has wrongly thought the adverse proposition to be reasonable. He therefore re-examines the position, knowing that he will find a mistake in his interpretation of the faith, or a fallacy in his reasoning. If I knew for certain that the Church had defined a given doctrine to be a dogma of faith, and my own ideas seemed at variance with the defined dogma, I would certainly choose to believe my own ideas mistaken rather than charge the Catholic Church with error. After all, Christ guaranteed the infallibility of the teaching Church, not of every individual man. And the history of human thought is as much a history of mistakes as it is a history of truth. Absolute confidence in one's own inability to reason wrongly is itself unreasonable, and against the facts of experience.
Not one instance can be produced showing that any article of the Catholic Faith has ever clashed with the conclusions of sound and rightly informed reason.
Not one article of Faith has ever had to be tampered with or changed in order to placate what some people have been pleased to call the claims of reason.
He was not. Having been excommunicated by the Calvinists, expelled from England as a disturber of the peace, excommunicated by the Lutherans in Germany, he came to Rome, and was there condemned for blasphemy and heresy, because he denied that Christ was God, and asserted Him to be but a magician. Even then the Church did not burn him. He was burned by the civil authorities as a traitor and as a dangerous enemy of the welfare of the state.
The only answer to that question is another. Why do you not try to find out the truth, instead of taking for granted any assertions you come across, provided they seem to cast a reflection on the Catholic Church? Is it because of prejudice and hate? Two things are necessary when drawing conclusions from history. The first thing is to get your facts right. The second thing is to get your interpretation of the facts right. You have done neither of those things.
That cannot be accepted. Both in theological and in secular matters she has not only left men free to think, but has urged them to do so. She does take precautions to prevent people from thinking wrongly, in religious matters particularly; but that is a true service to mankind. If at times she has been over-cautious, that was a fault on the right side. Scientists who complain of the restrictions of the Church have had to unsay far more things than those subject to the said restrictions.
She has not done so. In fact, the Catholic Church really gave civilization to the world. She is the mother of architecture, music, painting, and sculpture; of ethics, philosophy, and education. Her monks founded schools all over Europe, preserving the literature of the past, and inspiring the literature of the future. She established the great Universities of Europe, including both Oxford and Cambridge. Professor Whitehead, a non-Catholic, says that the middle ages were "pre-eminently an epoch of orderly thought, rationalist through and through ... forming one long training of the intellect of Western Europe in the sense of order." Let me advise you to get the book entitled, "The World's Debt to the Catholic Church," by Dr. James J. Walsh. It will surprise you.
No sound argument can be based on a few isolated cases. Also, if in some individual cases the Church opposed theories later proved to be right, would you blame her for opposing those which later events proved to be wrong? The conservatism of the Church meant the very great benefit of cautious thought; and the modern license has resulted in many things being swallowed as facts which are not facts, and the constant unsaying by "scientists" of what previous "scientists" have said.
It was not. They were taught agriculture and various trades, and were most skilled workers. The glorious buildings they erected shows that. The monks who gave us the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts, and who were devoted to teaching, were drawn from the ordinary people. But book learning is not the only learning, and prior to the inventing of the printing press, the diffusion of literary education as compared with today was impossible. To blame limitations due to lack of facilities as if they implied a deliberate discouragement of learning by the Church is unpardonable.
That is not true. In his book, "The Flight from Reason," written by Arnold Lunn before his conversion to the Catholic Church we read these words: "I sympathize with Dr. Walsh's reaction to the popular misrepresentation of the attitude of the mediaeval Church. It is as unreasonable to represent the mediaeval Church as hostile to science, as to suggest that the Popes were keenly interested in the advancement of scientific notions. The mediaeval Church was uninterested in, rather than hostile to science. The intellectual energies of the great mediaeval thinkers were concentrated on philosophy. The neglect of science must be ascribed, not to the active opposition of the Church, but to the fact that the great Churchmen were absorbed in other intellectual interests. The Popes, indeed, were always ready to patronize scientific discovery provided the scientists did not trespass on the province of the theologians."
Roger Bacon did not get into any trouble for predicting flying machines. He was a most aggressive and tactless man who caused all his own difficulties. His best friend was Pope Clement IV., who was deeply interested in his first attempts at experimental science. Bacon did not suffer "severe punishment." He was a Franciscan Friar, and his own Order had to keep him in retirement because of his belligerent ways.
Your history is at fault. Copernicus had often spoken of his theories on that subject, and far from being condemned as a heretic, was induced by clerical friends to put them into print. Only 73 years after his death was his book censured; and then merely because of the use Galileo made of it. But these individual cases, even were your interpretation of them correct, would not justify a general indictment of the Church.
Prudential decrees against a few particular theories in the field of science cannot rightly be construed as opposition to science. Also, such decrees are outside the field to which infallibility is restricted, and consequently do not affect that aspect of the Church.
The Church is infallible in her official definitions of correct moral teaching. But disciplinary decrees of Roman Congregations are not definitions of doctrine, and are not infallible. It is one thing to define a doctrine concerning moral principles, but quite another to regulate conduct in accordance with such principles as one believes them to apply to particular circumstances in some given period.
I am afraid that you begin with the belief that Catholic teaching is "obviously superstitious"; and so strong is this prejudice that any explanation which would show that it is not superstitious must seem wrong to you. Your attitude seems to be this: "As explained by this Catholic priest, Catholic teaching does not seem to be superstitious. But I am quite convinced that it is superstitious. Therefore this Catholic priest must be glossing it over." You put me "between the devil and the deep sea"; for you insist that I am either a knave or a fool. If what I say seems reasonable, then I must be insincere and a knave, because Catholic teaching is superstitious. If I do sincerely believe in it, I am a fool, because Catholic teaching is superstitious. So you have me both ways! But your obligation is to prove Catholic teaching superstitious.