Choose a topic from Vol 4:

Religion - Yes or No

Necessity of Religion
Reality of Religious Experience
Religion and life
Religious statistics
Nature of religion
Necessity of worship
Neglect of religion
Religion and history
Conversion of mankind

The Christian Church

Nature of the Church
Necessity of the Church
Visible organisation
Hierarchical constitution
Papal supremacy
Perpetuity of the Church

"This Shall Be the Sign"

Notes of identification
Unity of the Church
Holiness of the Church
Catholicity of the Church
Apostolic succession
"Roman" but not "Roman Catholic"

Dogmatic Authority of the Church

Authority in religion
Catholic Church infallible
The Pope infallible
Papal definitions
Dogmatic spirit of the Catholic Church
"Religion of the spirit"
Individual freedom
Re-stating Christianity
Athanasian Creed
Meaning of faith
Faith and reason
Faith and science
Religion and education
Religion and morals
Catholic countries backward
Universities and religion
Natural Moral Law
Christian principles of morality
Catholicism versus the world

The Power-Complex Illusion

Legislative power of the Catholic Church
Coercive power of the Catholic Church
Catholic Church and political ambitions
Divided allegiance of Catholics
Rome and totalitarianism
Aim of the Catholic Church in America
Catholic Action
Political freedom of Catholics
Catholic infiltration of civic life
Catholicism anti-democatic
Rival totalitarianisms, Rome and Moscow
Catholic attitude to Protestants
Spanish Inquisition
Church and State
Federal Union or "One World State"

Life-Or-Death Social Problems

Social reform necessary
Socialism
Trade unions
Communism
Protestant Churches and Communism
Capitalism
Social apathy of Churches
Catholic social teaching
Marriage
Family life
Primary purpose of marriage
Religion and marriage
Form of marriage
Mixed marriages
Birth control
"Catholic birth control"
Divorce and re-marriage
Catholics and civil divorce
Nullity decrees
Therapeutic abortion
Euthansia or mercy-killing
War

Those Exclusive Claims

Divided Christendom
Do divisions matter?
The "Only True Church" claims
Cause of sectarian bigotry
Reunion Movement
Catholic non-cooperation

Religious Liberty

Religious freedom
Catholic intolerance
Protestants and the principles of religious liberty
Rome and the "Four Freedoms"
Heresy and heretics
Religious rights of Protestants
Religious persecution
Anti-semitism
"Rome's historical record"
Protestant missionaries in Spain
In Italy
In South America
Conditions in Colombia

Are Only Catholics Saved

"Outside the Catholic Church no salvation"
Beliefs of Catholics
Salvation of Pagans
Salvation of Protestants
Why become a Catholic?
Duty of inquiry
Salvation of apostate Catholics
Test at the Last Judgment
Obstacles to conversion
Truth of Catholicism

Faith and science

446. The world is not interested in the word-spinning of philosophers. More to the point is the question as to whether your dogmas can stand up to physical science.

I hope you are not so foolish as to imagine that physical science is the only reliable source of knowledge, and that religious truth is acceptable only provided it can be proved by physical science. It will be enough for me to say here that there are no facts established by physical science which in any way conflict with any dogmas of the Catholic religion.

447. Catholics accept dogmas on the authority of their Church. But men of science are not unanimous about religious beliefs.

Why should they be? The opinions of a specialist on subjects in which he is not a specialist have no particular value. There is no magic by which a man's religious opinions become reliable because he happens to be a specialist in bacteriology or in atom-bomb construction. But why bring in men of science at all? Even were they unanimous about a given religious doctrine you could not accept it on their authority if you object to all beliefs based on authority! On what grounds could you hold that in matters of religion the authority of the Catholic Church is worthless but that the authority of scientists is entirely safe and reliable?

448. Men of science are the more intelligent section of the human race.

In the field of science men who have devoted their lives to science naturally have a greater understanding of that subject than others. But a specialist in scientific subjects can be quite unfamiliar with other matters and as capable of talking nonsense as anyone else. Most really great scientists ignore the exaggerated respect of undiscerning people and candidly admit their incompetence in fields of knowledge other than their own. And Catholic scientists have not been less great as scientists because they gladly accepted their religious beliefs on the authority of the Catholic Church. A Louis Pasteur is evidence enough of that.

449. You claim that theology is the science of God. But the science master, the chemistry professor, the mathematician, etc., are also concerned with the science of God; and their findings could also he called theology.

The very professors of science you mention would themselves reject your statement. Sciences are specified by their object. The geologist will study the earth, the astronomer the stars and planets, the physicist the properties and forces of bodies, the botanist vegetation, the biologist life in its various forms. But all these scientists are concerned with various aspects of this created universe quite apart from their relationship to God. Theology, on the other hand concerns itself with the God who created all that the natural scientists study. The sciences which concern themselves with things produced by God differ from the science which concerns itself with the God who produced them. And the physical scientists would themselves deny that the textbooks they publish are manuals of theology.

450. Your theological science needs to re-examine itself in the light of the duly-accredited authorities of physical science.

What do you mean by "duly accredited authorities"? Any authority physicists possess is dependent on the worth of their research and proofs, and on such approval as their fellow-men choose to bestow upon them. They are not accredited by God and they do not speak with the authority of God. On the other hand, the Catholic Church claims what they have never dared to claim. She claims to be directly accredited by God and to speak with the authority of God in all the exceedingly important matters God has revealed. And in expounding her teachings her theologians have the guidance in the authority of their Church which no scientist can claim in his own field of study.

451. In your own studies did you ever come across anything in science which conflicted with the defined dogmas of your Catholic religion?

Never. God is the Author of all truth, whether that truth be discovered by a scientific study of the universe He created, or whether it be made known to us by revelation. It is true that by divine revelation we may know certain truths over and above those we can get by natural scientific research, but between a truth really revealed by God and one which has undoubtedly been scientifically demonstrated, there cannot possibly be a conflict. Notice that I have said that there cannot be a conflict between a truth "really revealed" and a scientific truth "undoubtedly" demonstrated. If people have an opinion which they wrongly think to have been revealed by God, or an opinion they wrongly think to be scientific, then conflict may arise. But such conflict will be between wrong opinions, not really between revealed religion and science.

452. Your Church has been charged again and again with straightout persecution of scientists in order to prevent, further scientific discoveries.

That charge is quite unjust.

453. Professor Draper, M.D., LL.D., of New York, wrote a special book on the subject entitled, "The History of the Conflict between Religion and Science".

The very title of the book is its own condemnation. For there is not, and never has been, a conflict between religion and science. There has I been a conflict between some misinformed would-be exponents of religion and some scientists who have forsaken for the time being their science ir order to indulge in philosophical speculations of their own. But even the scientists who have said that science is incompatible with religion are wel in the minority. In his book, "The Religion of Scientists," Mr. C. L. Draw bridge says that 129 Fellows of the Royal Society were asked whether they] thought science was opposed to religion. Of these 103 declared that ill was not. When asked further whether they thought science was even favorable to religion, 99 replied yes, the other four holding that it was neither for nor against religion.

454. Is not Draper a recognized authority?

Professor Draper was born in 1811, over 100 years ago. He died over 60 years ago, in 1882. His writings on astronomy and chemistry had some, value in his own day, though both astronomy and chemistry, of course, have progressed far beyond his stage. Unfortunately, apart from his science,; Draper was credulous enough to swallow the crude materialism of the Victorian age in which he lived; and he manifested a tendency Professor J. A. Thompson noted amongst many scientists, that of going beyond his own sphere and indulging in philosophical speculation. Now whatever authority Professor Draper may at one time have had as a scientist, his philosophy was as worthless as his materialistic premises.

455. Right down the ages the Catholic Church has persecuted scientists when their discoveries have proved its teachings false.

Your talk of persecution is an inaccurate generalization based upon restrictive measures taken against some scientists, not the score of their science, but because they "went beyond their scientific sphere and propagated harmful philosophical or theological theories. It is quite false to say that any of their discoveries have ever proved any of the defined dogmatic teachings of the Catholic Church erroneous.

455. Right down the ages the Catholic Church has persecuted scientists when their discoveries have proved its teachings false.

Your talk of persecution is an inaccurate generalization based upon restrictive measures taken against some scientists, not the score of their science, but because they "went beyond their scientific sphere and propagated harmful philosophical or theological theories. It is quite false to say that any of their discoveries have ever proved any of the defined dogmatic teachings of the Catholic Church erroneous.

456. In 415 A.D. Hypatia, the daughter of Theon the astronomer, and herself a teacher of mathematics, was brutally murdered in Alexandria by Christian fanatics.

That does not prove the opposition of the Catholic Church to science. Hypatia was murdered, not because she was the daughter of Theon the astronomer, nor because she was a teacher of mathematics. The Alexandria of those days was in a constant state of tumult and political disturbances; between Jews, pagans and Christians residing there. In one of the many riots Hypatia was killed by a group of fanatical Christians because she was suspected, quite unjustly, of political intrigues. What a handful of fanatics does for another reason altogether does not prove that the attitude of the Catholic Church as such is hostile to science!

456. In 415 A.D. Hypatia, the daughter of Theon the astronomer, and herself a teacher of mathematics, was brutally murdered in Alexandria by Christian fanatics.

That does not prove the opposition of the Catholic Church to science. Hypatia was murdered, not because she was the daughter of Theon the astronomer, nor because she was a teacher of mathematics. The Alexandria of those days was in a constant state of tumult and political disturbances; between Jews, pagans and Christians residing there. In one of the many riots Hypatia was killed by a group of fanatical Christians because she was suspected, quite unjustly, of political intrigues. What a handful of fanatics does for another reason altogether does not prove that the attitude of the Catholic Church as such is hostile to science!

459. Has the Copernican system been accepted by all astronomers?

As opposed to the geocentric system of Ptolemy, Copernicus taught the heliocentric system, holding that the earth revolves around the sun. He arrived at that idea as a result of his studies of the movements of the sun and moon and planets which he undertook in the interests of reforming the calendar. And his conclusion has been accepted by all astronomers. No one today would dream of disputing it.

460. Was Copernicus a Prussian doctor?

Copernicus was born at Thorn, a town in Prussian territory; but his father had gone there from Kracow, in Poland. He was, therefore, of Polish, not of Prussian descent. He went back to Kracow to study literature, mathematics and science at the University there. Then he went to t the University of Bologna, in Italy, to study Canon Law; and there he ( became a Doctor of Canon Law. After that he studied medicine at the j University of, Ferrara, and later practiced as a physician. Later still, he became a priest.

461. What ecclesiastical censures did his teachings bring upon him?

None whatever. He was urged by Bishops and Cardinals to publish f his discovery. In 1533 Pope Clement VII commended the Copernican theory, and when Copernicus did publish his book ten years later he dedicated it to Pope. Paul III. There were no signs of Catholic opposition until 73 years later, when it was occasioned by Galileo.

462. Did Galileo (1546-1642) provoke ecclesiastical censure by advocating the Copernican theory?

Certainly not merely by doing that. Had he done no more than that there would have been no reason why he should have been censured any more than Copernicus.

463. What crime did he commit that he should have been tried by the Inquisition in 1632 and ordered to renounce his scientific creed that the earth goes round the sun?

Galileo was first called before the Inquisition in 1615. Some three ij years earlier than that his adversaries, clinging to the old Ptolemaic system, ^ I fell back on Sacred Scripture as an argument against Galileo's teaching. 1 This forced Galileo, in self-defense, to attack their interpretation of Scripl ture and the argument soon became theological rather than scientific. So ! heated did the argument become that the Church stepped in. Galileo's enemies accused him of contradicting Scripture and therefore of teaching heresy. A committee of theologians appointed to examine the matter decided that Galileo's teaching was indeed opposed to Holy Scripture; and in 1616 the Inquisition ordered him neither to hold nor to continue to teach his theory. Galileo agreed to submit to this decree. But he disobeyed, continued publicly to maintain his theory, and in 1633 was compelled to renounce it once more and was sentenced to imprisonment. The latter penalty was commuted to retirement to his friend the Duke of Tuscany's Villa near Rome, where Galileo continued his scientific researches. In all this the Inquisition was not wrong in desiring to put an end to a Scriptural controversy which was causing so much disturbance; nor was it wrong in penalizing Galileo for his disobedience. The officials of the Inquisition, however, were wrong in declaring his scientific theory false and opposed to Scripture. But we must remember that, although his theory happens to have been right, Galileo could not prove it. No scientist today will admit that he advanced a single valid proof of the fact. So far as proof was concerned, the old view was just as likely as the new* one. Many scientists opposed the new theory, and were as wrong as the theologians. However in all this the infallible dogmatic teaching-authority of the Catholic Church remains quite unaffected, for the whole matter was outside the conditions required for infallible decisions. Galileo himself never wavered in his Catholic faith, and died a normal and natural death, having received the Sacraments of the Church and a special blessing from the Pope.

464. What did the Inquisition authorities do to rectify their verdict upon Galileo?

The decrees of 1616 and 1633 were never regarded by Catholics as having closed the scientific question. The Church encouraged men of science to study the problem and see whether Galileo's theory could possibly be demonstrated. The search for proofs of the Copernican theory went on. Public lectures were given in its favor even in Rome, above all by the Jesuit Fathers. The publication of Newton's "Principia" in 1696 settled the matter, and the Copernican system secured general acceptance. In 1757 Pope Benedict XIV reversed the decree prohibiting the teaching of the theory as an established fact, and the whole disturbance became thenceforth merely an item in history.

465. We must come down to earth and face realities which can be tested and checked by experience.

The Catholic religion is based on the fact that God Himself came down to earth and put Himself within our reach in the visible and tangible events of the life of Christ. The facts recorded in the New Testament are as much facts as those recorded in any other scientifically reliable historical documents; and to ignore them and the whole series of facts resulting from them during 2,000 years in the history of the Catholic Church is not in the least a scientific procedure.

466. The point I am making is that nothing is certain which cannot be scientifically explained and demonstrated.

If so, the statement you have just made is not certain, for it cannot be scientifically demonstrated according to your test of empirical science. The truth is that you are talking, not science, but an out-of-date positivist philosophy, irrational and intellectually bankrupt.

467. You of course would not accept that because it would he the end of your religion.

It would also be the end of very much else. Thousands of problems arise in our daily lives which are beyond the reach of empirical science, yet to which we know the correct answer. On different occasions and for different purposes we have to fall back on different types of judgment; and one who understands human psychology knows that thesfc various types of judgment, far from being in conflict, complete each other and help human beings to live lives that are really human and not merely mechanical and empty of all meaning. Not only your empirical science, but history, literature, art, philosophy, religion and innumerable psychological factors offer reliable contributions towards the successful living of our lives,, personally and socially, in this world—not to speak of our destiny beyond it.

468. Did not the scientist Laplace say that he had managed without the hypothesis of God?

Not in the sense you have in mind. Never did he deny the existence of God or maintain that His existence was a mere hypothesis. In his own lifetime he repudiated such an interpretation of his words. He insisted that the universe owed its existence to creation by God. What he did mean was this: Newton had suggested that merely natural laws could not of themselves account for all the natural developments in the universe. He thought that God Himself must at times directly intervene to preserve the stability of the cosmic system. Laplace denied that. He did not deny the existence of God. He declared that God had implanted in the universe all the natural physical laws necessary for its preservation and natural development; and that there was no need to fall back on the hypothesis of His continual intervention.

469. In 1869 T. H. Huxley said that agnosticism is of the essence of science.

He was not referring to religious agnosticism. He was referring to the realm of physical science in which one must not profess to know for certain that for which no strictly scientific demonstration has yet been found. But in the realm of philosophy and in that of religion certainty can be had whether by sound philosophical reasoning or by divine revelation. These matters simply do not come within the scope of physical science.

470. Must a scientist, if he wishes to remain scientific, be an agnostic?

Not in the sense in which you are using that word. There are no scientific grounds for rejecting the Catholic religion. The scientist who attacks it goes beyond the sphere of his science and begins to argue from a particular kind of philosophy that he happens to approve. His lack of respect for the Catholic religion is certainly not due to science. The biographies of the greatest scientists do not show a skeptical spirit. They show the reverse. The spirit of irreverence for religion and the things of God is to be found amongst those whose knowledge is most restricted; not amongst those who have comprehensive views of human life in all its activities and manifestations.

471. Many modifications have been introduced into religion following the discoveries of science.

Science has thrown a good deal of light upon many subjects connected with revealed religion, and has helped to clear up many misunderstandings concerning it. But the Catholic Church has never had to modify any one of her defined doctrines, nor has science given any grounds whatever for doubting those defined doctrines.

472. The Book of Genesis says that man was created six days after God made the earth; yet geologically that is impossible.

Geologically it is certain that the earth existed millions of years before the creation of man, only gradually over a very long period becoming fit for human habitation.

473. In that case the Bible must be wrong.

It would be, were your interpretation of it correct. But you have not rightly understood the Book of Genesis. The author of that Book had no intention of giving a scientific and chronological account of creation. He intended no more than a general and popular description. For religious reasons he divided his account into six sections, calling each section a "day," and completing his description with the end of the sixth "day." His purpose was to impress on the Jews that they were to confine their work to six days and cease on the seventh in order to devote that day to bodily rest and religious duties. To adopt the purely literary device of dividing one's description into six sections, calling each section a "day" in order to inculcate a moral teaching is not to say that the events allotted to each section actually occurred within a period of twenty-four hours.

474. Are there any really convincing purely scientific and purely historical proofs of the events in Genesis?

No. Nor should they be expected. Those events belong to what is known as pre-history. The Book of Genesis was written tens of thousands of years alter the events described in its first chapters. No contemporary written documents survive from men who stood by while the universe was being created, or who knew Adam and Eve and their children personally. Of later events in Genesis there were surviving human traditions and possibly written accounts. But what is recorded in the earlier chapters could have been made known to the human writer of them only by divine revelation. Scientifically and historically the documents of the New Testament can be proved reliable; but without faith in Christ and the Catholic Church one can have no guarantee of the truth of the events recorded in the primitive history contained in the first chapters of Genesis. The normal conditions for exact history as we know the word today were simply lacking then. But that does not affect the historical truth of what is recorded in the Book of Genesis, all due allowance being made for the literary form and style in which the revelation granted to Moses was committed to writing.

475. Would you please explain the creation of the world from the viewpoint of Catholic science?

There is no such thing as Catholic physical science. There are Catholics, of course, who are scientists. But physical science as such has not a religious character. It is knowledge at which natural human reason can arrive by observation, experiment, and logical deduction. As for your question, a Catholic accepts the fact known by divine revelation that the wnole of this material universe was created by God. At one time it did not exist. By an act of God's omnipotent will it began to exist. What its initial condition was, and how its subsequent developments occurred, have not been revealed; except, of course, that all that has happened has/been in accordance With God's general providence. A Catholic is quite free to accept anything science can prove on any of these matters. But science cannot prove anything very definite. One scientific theory is that the material universe began with the creation of a kind of mist or nebula of atoms endowed with energy, and that by a series of condensations this nebula evolved or developed into all the galaxies of stars and planets as We now know them. But science cannot say for certain how the stars and planets, including our earth, originated. We have to be content with the fact that it is a mystery no man yet has been able to solve.

476. What do Catholics hold as regards the origin of life?

Whatever they think more probable in the light of such evidence as is available, which is not much. A Catholic has to hold, of course, that each human soul, spiritual and intellectual of its very nature, owes its existence to a special creative act of God. But when we turn to the origin of life as such, in its primitive and lower forms which undoubtedly preceded the advent of man to this world, it is an open question. There are those who think it not impossible that God implanted in an original nebula even the powers necessary for inorganic matter to become living by certain evolutionary combinations, without any special intervention on God's part. This would mean spontaneous generation. If that could be proved true, then scientists would have to deny that Pasteur refuted the possibility of spontaneous generation, as scientists have themselves maintained. Most scientists still reject spontaneous generation, holding that living things can come only from living things. Darwin held that life is due to a special creative act of God when the earth was ready for it; but that God gave life only in a very simple and primitive form from which the endless series of later forms evolved. Many scientists, however, hold that a special act of creation was necessary for the different species of living things. In all this we are in the realm of theory; of possibilities and probabilities, not of certainties. And the scientist who is a Catholic, so long as he maintains that each human soul owes its origin to a special creative act of God, is free in all the rest to hold as more likely what he believes the scientific evidence available to indicate as indeed the more probable opinion.

477. I have read that scientists can produce life from inorganic chemicals.

No scientist has succeeded in doing so yet. Should scientists succeed in doing so, then they would have proved the possibility of abiogenesis, or the origin of life from non-living matter. The truth of the Catholic religion would be quite unaffected by such a discovery.

478. By discovering more and more about the universe science will yet find out what its true origin was.

If it does, it will find out that it was created by God. But, as a matter of fact, no discoveries by science will be able to show how the universe came into existence; how it has developed, perhaps; but not how it came to be in the first place. Science finds the universe already here, and studies it. How it got here it cannot and will never be able to say. If a scientist says that it always existed, he is not speaking as a scientist, for what he says is not a scientific conclusion at all. He is merely offering a guess, which is of no more value than the guess of anybody else.

479. In a lecture to the Anthropological Society, in 1949, Dr. W. J. Hull said that under the dominance of your Church the science of medicine suffered complete eclipse, passing largely into the hands of the priests. He was referring to the Middle Ages.

His statement was a distortion of history. In the chaos caused by wave after wave of barbarian invasions of Europe during the earlier Middle Ages,J with the consequent destruction of cultural institutions, libraries and universities, the Catholic monasteries rescued all that could be saved of literature, art and science, including medicine. Under the dominance of barbarian hordes, medicine and works of social welfare generally were forced into the hands of the Church, and the monasteries built almshouses for the dispensing of charity, and hospitals for the care of the sick. It is a strange perversion which, instead of gratitude, can find reasons only for abuse and vilification of the monasteries for their devoted service, even though they were limited in their activities by the elementary degree of scientific knowledge then available.

480. He said that disease was regarded as caused mainly by devils and demons.

Such an idea can arise only from a misreading of history. It was accepted throughout the whole of the thirteen centuries preceding the renaissance that disease was caused by "spirits." But what were those "spirits"? Galen, of Pergamum (A.D. 130-200), provided a summary of the medical theories of antiquity which remained the basis of diagnosis for centuries. He spoke of three types of so-called spirits, which were not spiritual beings, such as demons or devils, but natural physiological secretions- or juices or humors. Hence the term "humoral pathology." Galen said that there were natural spirits or humors formed in the liver; vital spirits or humors formed in the heart; and animal spirits or humors formed in the brain. Mediaeval medicine was based on Galenism; and however physiologically fantastic the system seems to us now, it did not teach that disease was mainly caused by devils. I do not say that sometimes disease was attributed to supernatural causes; at times without sufficient reason, and therefore superstitiously; at times not without good reason. But Dr. Hull's statement shows a complete misunderstanding of Galen's spirit-physiology

481. Dr. Hull said that, attributing disease to devils, the priests thought that they were the proper people to deal with it.

The priests claimed, of course, to be the authorized teachers of religion. And their teaching included the doctrine of Holy Scripture, that devils do exist, and are able to cause both spiritual and temporal disasters. But that they regarded devils as the normal cause of disease is not true. They were well aware of the principles of preventive medicine contained in the really wonderful sanitary code given in the Book of Leviticus, a code which Dr. Alexander Rattray declares to be deserving of every medical man's admiration as a means of protection against natural causes of disease. They were well aware of the significance of Christ's words that the sick need the care of the physician. And they themselves, whilst undoubtedly urging reliance upon prayer, employed natural medicinal remedies and resorted to surgery, crude though their methods may have been by our modern standards.

482. He said that incantations and prayers were their weapons against epidemics.

They were not the only weapons. Such preventive and curative remedies as were then known were also used. To pour scorn on the use of prayer also is a manifestation of ignorance. Dr. Alexis Carrel, author of "Man the Unknown," and for many years engaged in physiological research at the Rockefeller Institute, New York, insists that scientific medicine must no longer shut i ts eyes to the psycho-physiological effects of prayer, even apart from its spiritual values. He writes that his experience as a surgeon, as a doctor, as a physiologist, and the studies in the laboratory to which he devoted himself for many years on the regeneration of tissues and the healing of wounds, have enabled him to appreciate at their true value certain curative effects of prayer. And in his book, "Prayer," he says: ! "A doctor who sees a patient give himself to prayer can indeed rejoice."

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