Happy Birthday, dear universe, happy birthday to you!


This is from History:

On this day in 4977 B.C., the universe is created, according to German mathematician and astronomer Johannes Kepler, considered a founder of modern science. Kepler is best known for his theories explaining the motion of planets.
Kepler was born on December 27, 1571, in Weil der Stadt, Germany. As a university student, he studied the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus’ theories of planetary ordering. Copernicus (1473-1543) believed that the sun, not the earth, was the center of the solar system, a theory that contradicted the prevailing view of the era that the sun revolved around the earth.
In 1600, Kepler went to Prague to work for Danish astronomer Tycho Brahe, the imperial mathematician to Rudolf II, emperor of the Holy Roman Empire. Kepler’s main project was to investigate the orbit of Mars. When Brahe died the following year, Kepler took over his job and inherited Brahe’s extensive collection of astronomy data, which had been painstakingly observed by the naked eye. Over the next decade, Kepler learned about the work of Italian physicist and astronomer Galileo Galilei (1564-1642), who had invented a telescope with which he discovered lunar mountains and craters, the largest four satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Venus, among other things. Kepler corresponded with Galileo and eventually obtained a telescope of his own and improved upon the design. In 1609, Kepler published the first two of his three laws of planetary motion, which held that planets move around the sun in ellipses, not circles (as had been widely believed up to that time), and that planets speed up as they approach the sun and slow down as they move away. In 1619, he produced his third law, which used mathematic principles to relate the time a planet takes to orbit the sun to the average distance of the planet from the sun.
Kepler’s research was slow to gain widespread traction during his lifetime, but it later served as a key influence on the English mathematician Sir Isaac Newton (1643-1727) and his law of gravitational force. Additionally, Kepler did important work in the fields of optics, including demonstrating how the human eye works, and math. He died on November 15, 1630, in Regensberg, Germany. As for Kepler’s calculation about the universe’s birthday, scientists in the 20th century developed the Big Bang theory, which showed that his calculations were off by about 13.7 billion years.

Well… a billion here a billion there…

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Kathleen10 says:

    We may know nothing. I’ve heard the Big Bang Theory is hogwash.

  2. DeGaulle says:

    The Big Bang Theory is in considerable difficulty, as it can’t explain the degree of gravitational force present in the Universe. Attempts have been made to rectify the inconsistency with the hypothesis of ‘Dark Matter’, which, until some supporting evidence of its existence is found, seems suspiciously like an attempt to cook the books.

    Perhaps Kepler was right. Wolfgang Smith, philosopher, physicist, mathematician and devout Catholic, hypothesises that the Earth may have entered into a several-billion-year-old universe from a ‘White Hole’ ( the opposite of a Black Hole) about six millenia ago.

  3. Malta says:

    The only A+ I ever got in college was in Astronomy. Not many realize but the Big Bang theory came from a Belgian Priest and Astronomer: https://news.wgbh.org/post/big-bang-theory-roman-catholic-creation
    It makes perfect sense to me. There had to be a catalyst to create an expanding universe. I don’t know why some religious knuckleheads are so adamant on dates. It might take another 500 years before we know when the Universe was really created.

  4. Pingback: Happy Birthday, dear universe, happy birthday to you! | Fr. Z’s Blog | Deaconjohn1987's Blog

  5. will99lang says:

    It is not that bad, the liberal government of the province on Ontario made an (voluntary) error of 5 billion dollars of the deficit of this year’s budget. 6.7 billions and 11.7 billions are (ahem) only “a billion here a billion there…”

  6. FrAnt says:

    In 1927, the Belgian Catholic priest Georges Lemaître developed the Big Bang Theory. But we Catholics hate science; and Vatican II.

  7. JustaSinner says:

    So when did the dinosaurs roam the earth? Around 33 AD?

  8. I seem to have read somewhere that the art of celestial navigation is based on the geocentric theory…yet somehow, it works!

  9. Sword40 says:

    A cataclysmic event does not create order; only chaos. Only God creates order.

  10. stephen c says:

    The funny thing about scientists is that they love to argue; is that turtle with the blue sheen on his carapace a different species from the turtles with the violet sheen? or the same species? which is fine because they are talking about turtles they have seen and photographed. And they are self-aware and know that half of science is just their humorous view of life… it takes a lot of energy to care about the subtle differences in the sheen of one turtle or another, and scientists laugh about how much energy they have, trust me on that, I have known a couple of that breed …

    But … Scientists get really funny and tragically misleading when they argue over things they cannot possibly know about. Everybody who understands what a long human life consists of knows that the story of Adam and Eve is more credible than whatever slushy lies the average book-learned evolutionist might describe as to what happened back in the day. And the poor physicists and cosmologists don’t advertise this much, but they only have, at most, a good mathematical understanding of about 4 per cent of the cosmological patterns of matter in the universe. You can look it up = believe it or not, only 4 percent of the universe is anywhere near accurately described by the best scientists of today.

    The careerists in the established churches don’t have time to look into this, but if they did, they would not be all that impressed with poor Tielhard (cool first name) de Chardin or, to tell the truth, with similarly over-impressed-with-themsleves theologians who just flat out accept that, because science says so, the world is older than it could possibly be if the number of the generations in the Bible is remotely accurate. Well no, maybe it is not.

    Dante was wrong about almost everything scientific, and Tielhard, a couple dozen generations of ignorance later, was even more wrong, as one would expect (ignorance accumulates more reliably than knowledge), and even today not a single scientist knows anything reliably accurate about the probabilities of the cosmological constants being an illusion or not, beyond their little magic boxes of mathematical tricks. Felix qui potuit rerum cognoscere causas …. if only (!) How easy it would be to build a time machine and discover that yes, all those years ago, there were fish in the ocean that could easily do what the fish described by Jonah did, and that all those years ago, Eve, for example, was just as real and just as lovable as you would imagine, and Adam was just as real and worthy of respect as the best high school teacher we remember, if we are lucky enough to have had at least one good high school teacher. Just saying.

    Of course most people reading this believe that every miracle ascribed to Jesus in the New Testament was, in fact, a miracle – but even if , in one’s lack of faith and in one’s sad reluctance to understand that Jesus is a real person and that every one of those miracles made somebody very very happy, when they were performed (heart speaks to heart), even if in one’s lack of faith one thinks that Jesus was just somebody who waited billions of years, in his humble way, in a world that He had not created, to be just another person in that long cosmological landscape – well, stop thinking that, He created the world, and his miracles were so easy for him to perform that it was almost comical.

    Actually, the Bible teaches us that we all will see miracles if we are given faith. I have seen one or two or three, and my faith is not even all that strong. Good luck, God loves you too.

  11. Nan says:

    Both the Vatican observatory and the long list of priest scientists prove that hate.

  12. DeGaulle says:

    Father Lemaitre, I have read, once advised an enthusiastic Pope Pius XII, who had been very impressed by his singularity theory, not to hang too much upon it, despite its obvious apparent support for a moment of creation. Lemaitre said, quite rightly, it was merely the theory that best corresponded to the contemporaneous data, but could be proven wrong by the discovery of new data. This was wise and sound advice.

    Currently, the most interesting field for me is Information Theory. This new field seems to be absolutely killing the now quaint, nineteenth century notion that complexity has via chance been derived from simplicity. Information Theory seems to be revalidating Aristotle’s view that an Effect cannot be greater than its Cause. It’s only a few short steps from there to the conception of a First Cause.

  13. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Stephen C,

    I do not understand what you are saying. Do you think that one cannot be a scientist and believe in Scripture?

    The Natural Law does not contradict Divine Law, although God may, from time to time, suspend Natural Law, if He chooses.

    You say, “And the poor physicists and cosmologists don’t advertise this much, but they only have, at most, a good mathematical understanding of about 4 per cent of the cosmological patterns of matter in the universe. You can look it up = believe it or not, only 4 percent of the universe is anywhere near accurately described by the best scientists of today.”

    What do you mean they don’t advertise it? The fact that dark matter and dark energy are not understood is proclaimed in every journal of astronomy and cosmology. Scientists are trying to understand it. It is tough. I don’t understand your point, however. Since dark matter and dark energy are not mentioned in Scripture, should scientists ignore it? Every time a scientist proclaims to the world that science knows it all, God throws them another mystery. Scientists live for that.

    Evidence is evidence. Do you want scientists to throw away their observations? The truth must be consistent, otherwise, the concept of Natural Laws falls apart. The Bible never directly mentions quantum mechanics (although, Jesus walking through the walls to the upper room after the Ressurection could be quantum tunneling), so should we ignore the thousands of experiments that demonstrate it?

    God and science, properly done, are not at odds.

    The Chicken

  14. JGavin says:

    Billion here Billion there, sounds like Congress.

  15. James in Perth says:

    For those who remain skeptical of the so-called Big Bang Theory, I recommend the DVD set titled “From Nothing to Cosmos” from the Magis Center and presented by Father Spitzer. The four presentations are a unifying look at science, metaphysics, and philosophy in respect of the Creation.

    Father Spitzer marshals all the science of the Big Bang and the fine tuning of the initial conditions of the universe to argue that the evidence all points towards a creator. He discusses not only LeMaitre’s original theory but the subsequent evidence that supports it.

    Definitely worth your time and money. https://www.magiscenter.com/

  16. stephen c says:

    Masked chicken – deGaulle, in his reply, made the point that, from one point of view, an Effect cannot be greater than its Cause. Of course scientists’ measurements are interesting, but so far not a single observation or theory or combination of theories, no matter how detailed, is more than a minor catalog entry or set of catalog entries in mankind’s so far very, very small description of God’s artwork, i.e., All of Creation. The poor cosmologists think they are a long way towards a theory of everything, and, while, as you point out, they humbly admit they only can explain 4 percent of what has been measured to exist – they generally (there are exceptions) seem to assume that, for example, the (observable) universe actually is as old as it seems to them. That is, they imagine that they are measuring the past and predicting the future of a very large inanimate thing (considering the universe an inanimate thing) in a way that corresponds to the only possible match with the facts they have observed. That is their hubris. The Bible explains everything that exists as being created by God, and the Bible teaches that God wants to work miracles all the time. While hard work and insights and detailed engineering of telescopes and other machines by our current band of cosmologists is admirable, none of them is an expert on everything that is known about physics and science, and therefore none of them have a right to be surprised that miracles might be occurring, every day, outside their very specialized field of observation. One such miracle, which I expect some of the more humble saints may have seen, could be the existence of a world that is more real than this particular world – not a more mystical world than this world, or more advanced and not necessarily even more close to God – but more real – and in which everybody named in the Bible said and did what they are reported to have said. And that world will go on and on and continue and the measured world of the Hubbles and the Spritzers and the Hawkings will trail away like seafoam on an unvisited ocean on an unvisited planet, or like some great long speech that Shakespeare recited out loud to his friends on a summer afternoon and then decided not to write down the next day.

    There is no scientific fact which makes that possibility (i.e., the possibility that our world – even as wonderfully changed as it has been since Jesus was born and performed his miracles – will eventually be determined to be transient, our physical laws will be determined to be a voluntary work of art, and so on) less likely than, say, the possibility that a human, having descended from the apes, has even a scintilla of a chance to understand “Everything” – and any poor cosmologist who has ever used the term “theory of everything” in anything but an ironic way is, at least from my point of view, someone who has lost sight of the greatness of the truth.

    Shorter version – I agree with you, science is compatible with natural law, what scientists have discovered and verified is interesting, many scientists are fantastically knowledgeable about much, but God’s miracles are more scientific and more accurate. Miracles are not an exception to the laws of nature (here I disagree with you) miracles are a better version of what the laws of nature are and should be. This is something that should be told to scientists who think their passion for the truth makes them better able to describe the past and the present and the future than those geniuses and saints who were described in the Bible and who wrote, inspired by the Lord, the Bible.

    This comment is already too long, but here is an analogy – take a book by a good writer, say Dickens or Tolkien, or a play of Shakespeare – some of the greatest achievements ever. Now imagine you lived through one of those novels or one of those plays as a main character – but now you are old and all you can remember is the 10 or 20 thousand words that described how you acted and felt. That is Science. Now imagine you lived through one of those novels or plays as a main character, but you remember the past without being limited to the descriptions. Since I do not mistake the map for the territory, and since I do not begin to think that the road of scientific knowledge has even really been started on, and since the Biblical and Christian truths are matters of faith, I can easily credit those people who have described Adam and Eve and their first home as being as truthful as God Himself could want.

  17. David Collins says:

    I have always thought that God created the universe and science tells us how He did it. No conflict whatsoever between faith and science.

    So I believe what the Church teaches, and Big Bang theory, evolution. (And climate change!)

  18. stephen c says:

    David Collins – someday you might find yourself in a conversation with a person who, in these sad days, idolizes scientists.

    Please do not tell them that you “believe” Big Bang theory, please do not tell them that you “believe” evolution, and please do not tell them that you “believe” (And climate change!)”. You are a Christian, not some vassal or servant in some world where half-wit scientists reign. Show some courage!

    If you “have always thought that God created the universe and science tells us how He did it” = well, good for you for capitalizing the H in He. But please, learn some humility. “science” is not what you think it is. Nobody cares what “you have always thought” about science unless you have actually worked at trying to understand it… and even if you are a Newton or an Einstein, my young friend, you did not understand it ….well, and nobody cares what I “have always thought”,either, but at least I have put in the work: well, if I have not worked hard enough, I do not mind if nobody thinks that I care about the truth, God loves us anyway.

  19. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Stephen C,

    You wrote:

    “Please do not tell them that you “believe” Big Bang theory, please do not tell them that you “believe” evolution, and please do not tell them that you “believe” (And climate change!)”. You are a Christian, not some vassal or servant in some world where half-wit scientists reign. Show some courage!”

    St. Albertus Magnus was the mentor of St. Thomas Aquinas and is the patron saint of scientists. If the Church has seen fit to give such a patronage to someone so significant in Church history, then why do you describe a lack of humility to science? Some scientists lack humility, but science, itself, is, by definition, the search for the Natural Law and that implies humility, if done rightly.

    The Church has no objection to someone believing in a literal six days of Creation or believing that the world were created in 4977 B .C., for that matter but it, also, has no objection to science seeking to understand the regularities and the irregularities of Nature. It has never been a sin to study the created order. Even St. Paul says that one may come to believe in the existence of God by observing the natural order. One can argue about Biblical interpretation regarding Creation just as much as one can argue about the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation. The Church has not pronounced on these matters.

    The word believe comes from the German, be leiben, which is from the proto-German, ga-laubjan, which means to be in love with. It acquired its more modern meanings, “to be persuaded of the truth of something,” from the mid-13th century, right around the time that St Albert was writing and a second meaning of, “to give credit to the truth of some idea based on some authority or testimony without complete demonstration,” was acquired about a century, later.

    There is belief that is purely natural and believe which is supernatural. Science only claims natural belief, whereas belief in the dogmas of Catholic theology have the added dimension of the supernatural virtue of Faith added to them. Science has natural faith, only. Metaphysically, scientists can only take on faith, so to speak (a natural faith), that knowing the past of a phenomenon plus some assumed law of nature means that one may extrapolate the behavior of the system into the future. What else can they do?

    I mean, what science do you accept, if any? Should we go back to a time where antibiotics didn’t exist because someone doesn’t, “believe,” in the underlying science? Should we accept the science of Galileo, but not that of Einstein?

    Science is just a Latin word for knowledge and even Scripture calls this type of knowledge Natural Wisdom to separate it from supernatural wisdom. The Bible has no problem with it. It is, also, unfair to paint scientists with such a broad brush. St. Albert was a scientist and he is a canonized saint.

    The Chicken

  20. stephen c says:

    Masked Chicken – Thanks for reading my comment. I have no doubt that both you and David Collins are likely better Christians than me. However, David Collins laughed at me: I spent a lot of effort in describing the difficult to describe view that a good, intelligent Christian has with respect to the science mania that distracts so many of my fellow humans, and he said, in a short dismissive response, well, “science is great, and theology is great, Science describes how God does what he does. That is enough for me, nothing you said was worth thinking about.” How unkind that was!

    And he was wrong. I don’t care that he mocked me, but I do care that he was wrong.

    For the record, Albertus Magnus was not a scientist, the way I see it. Hawking was not a scientist, Einstein was not a scientist, Brother Mendel was not a scientist. They were stamp collectors, all they did was build on observations of others, add a few observations of their own the way a little child posts a few extra stamps in the stamp album, and there you are.

    Padre Pio was a scientist. Were you there when he demonstrated why bilocation is not a miracle but an easy simple demonstration of the laws of God?

    Father Vianney was a scientist. Were you there when he read the souls of sinners in a way that made Darwin and Freud look like slow-witted and foolish old retirees?

    Stephen the Protomartyr was a scientist, if you had a few moments to talk to him before they killed him he could have explained to you why “string theory” is a sad substitute for an understanding of the first chapter of Genesis. He saw God and lived. I wasn’t there, but Stephen was there, and he saw God and lived (at least for a little while, they were killing him at the time).

    The vaccine people, the agriculture people, the physicist people, they are all often smart. But, trust me, Masked Chicken, if they were good scientists, in the way a Carmelite saint is a good model for our prayer life, they would be such good scientists that no child would ever need vaccines again, nobody would suffer from hunger, and everybody reading these words would feel as if they had heard the most important words of truth they ever heard when I stated that Padre Pio knew the basics of bilocation. They were not secrets. Poor little Einstein spent the last 40 years of his life bragging about his small advances in a very small (less than 4 percent) description of the world he lived in his whole life. And he wasted a lot of time, in those last 40 years, posing for pictures that he knew would be “iconic” and meanwhile his low-on-empathy heart wasted away, year after year, without love for those who were closest to him in the natural order. No, he was not a scientist, he was a technology fan-boy.

    Thanks for reading. If you think I am wrong, please reread with empathy. If you still disagree, that is OK, God loves all of us.

  21. The Masked Chicken says:

    Dear Stephen C.,

    Thank you for explaining your position. It makes a lot more sense to me, now.

    Scripture, as I mentioned, makes a distinction between two kinds of wisdom: practical wisdom and moral or theological wisdom. Practical wisdom is such things as how to build a house; moral wisdom is knowing that it is a sin to burn down someone’s house. Practical wisdom is passing, inasmuch as the world will pass away at the end of time and physics will be no more, but moral wisdom is eternal.

    In that sense, I agree that moral wisdom is the enduring science, while practical wisdom is merely contingent on the existence of this universe. I choose to accept both as being science, however, because of the incarnation. Jesus never needed to learn any moral wisdom, because He is Wisdom, itself, but he did have to learn practical wisdom, since he was the son of a carpenter. It says in Luke 2:52, after the Holy Family went home after Jesus was bar mitzvah:

    ” And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature, and in favor with God and man.”

    The wisdom he grew in was practical wisdom, how man fits in the material universe. Thus, I accept both material science and theological science as both being proper pursuits of man. If you only accept theological science, then, you might want to explain that in a discussion from the start, as it might help people know that your use of science is more restricted than some other people’s use.

    So, we don’t really disagree. It is just a definitional misunderstanding.

    The Chicken

  22. Semper Gumby says:

    stephen c and Masked Chicken: Interesting discussion.

    One hopes, regarding David Collins’ comment, that his belief in God is more profound than his belief in man-made theories such as the Big Bang, Evolution, and Global Warming. One wonders if David Collins is aware that these theories, particularly the last two, figure prominently in socialist propaganda and pagan/occult proselytizing.

    This brings to mind a 19th-century poem by Gerald Manley Hopkins:

    The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame outward, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
    Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod? (1)
    Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil; (2)
    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
    Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

    And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
    And though the last lights off the black West went (3)
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
    Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings. (4)

    (1) “reck” = reckon, “reck his rod” = heed God’s authority

    (2) The Catholic Hopkins was no Communist bashing away at the free market and entrepreneurship here, this is a reasonable observation that the Industrial Revolution and an abundance of material goods was separating humanity from God’s creation, and, perhaps, having an effect on the family. Tolkien made a similar lament in Lord of the Rings with the Hobbits and the Shire, the Ents, and Tom Bombadil- a merry fellow who lived in the Old Forest with Goldberry the River-woman’s Daughter. There is quite a bit of talk these days about the “Environment” and “Mother Earth,” not so much about being Stewards of God’s Creation.

    (3) Even if mankind makes a hash out of things and night descends, remain faithful and persevere to the End, for Day shall come again. This poem, written I think in the 1870s, perhaps foreshadows the observation that British Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey made to a friend in early August 1914 while they looked out his office window in London at dusk: “The lamps are going out all over Europe, we shall not see them lit again in our life-time.”

    (4) “Because the Holy Ghost brooding over a bent World with ah! bright wings.” Indeed.

  23. stephen c says:

    Thanks for reading, Masked Chicken and Semper Gumby. I appreciate that what David Collins said is just fine, too, my guess is most Cardinals and most theology professors at the best Catholic universities would say the same thing, and they would not be saying anything non-Christian or non-Catholic. I hope that, if he reads this, nothing I said makes him think I do not completely respect his point of view!

    And I might talk the same way, but I have actually seen a miracle or two, like lots of other people who are Catholic (in my case, a near-death experience where I saw my favorite saint – not a physical miracle because although I saw my favorite saint – and, I realize this now, I was wrong to have a favorite saint, but I did – I understood in that moment that it is the depths of foolishness to have a favorite among our fellow creatures, and I saw for a moment what a Saint looks like when we see them in Heaven – just a moment, but it changed me forever – well, nobody who saw me bleeding out could have known what I was spiritually looking at, so I guess I am stretching it when I say it was a miracle, but for me it was, as God is my witness) and, years later, I saw a person who had decades of sinfulness to repent for, near death, finally and unexpectedly, completely understand the complete forgiveness that God so badly wants to give us – I was humbled at the look of joy on that old sinner’s face – such a conversion is a miracle, isn’t it? (although I had prayed for the old sinner for years, I know that I did not pray nearly enough to come close to having any merit in the conversion of that soul who is now, I am near certain, is in Heaven (judge us not by our merits but by your lenience, God) and it is hard for me to remember it without joy ….

  24. Semper Gumby says:

    stephen c wrote:  “And I might talk the same way [as David Collins], but I have actually seen a miracle or two, like lots of other people…”

    Good point.

    “…nobody who saw me bleeding out could have known what I was spiritually looking at, so I guess I am stretching it when I say it was a miracle, but for me it was…”

    Good point.  There are moments when the natural world- God’s creation-  cannot be easily distinguished from the supernatural.

    Well, it is unfortunate that some people these days believe in “science” to the extent that it becomes religious belief.  Observing, testing hypotheses, and developing new products is, to put it one way, no more than the careful tending and harvesting of the vineyards of the Lord. (The history of the Catholic Church and its development of and support for the Scientific Method is great reading).

    However, turning the word “science” (or “biology” or “anthropology” etc.) into a mantra is altogether different.  Those who believe Physical Science can fully explain both the Universe and the human race have a meager outlook on life, to say the least.  As we saw in the 19th and 20th centuries, this hybrid Natural/Supernatural belief system produced quite a few malevolent philosophers, scientists, and politicians. Who, eventually, produced diabolical ideologies, malicious groups and revolutions, numerous tyrannies, and a vast, deep ocean of human misery and blood.

    Fr. Rutler wrote something interesting about all this in a December 2015 article in Crisis magazine, just after the strange Vatican “Pro-Environment” light show:

    “Jesus loved the lilies of the field, more beautiful than Solomon in all his glory, but he beautified this world incomparably by passing through it with a reminder of its natural impermanence: “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Matt. 24:35). The Church has dogmas and properly so, but they do not include making a dogma of unsettled science, just as in religion “private revelations” are not binding on the faithful. Science, by its nature, is unsettled, and today’s certitudes may be disproved tomorrow; the anthropogenic theories held by even a majority of climatologists may fade like the geocentric theories of astronomers in the days of Clavius.”

    One more excerpt:

    “…hypotheses should not be pronounced as conclusions. And if the Church’s “voice crying in the desert” is to be prophetic, it should not cry wolf. Nor should the Church allow herself to be appropriated by political elites, business interests, and what Santillana in the instance of the Renaissance called “vested academic interests,” whose tendency is to exploit benevolent, if emotive, environmentalists.

    “So it was perplexing that on the recent Feast of the Immaculate Conception, the feast itself was upstaged by an unprecedented light show cast on the façade of St. Peter’s Basilica, sponsored by the World Bank Group, an environmental foundation called Okeanos, and Vulcan, Inc., a Seattle-based private company dedicated to exposing “sins against the climate.” Sins? These interests may have good intentions, but the parameters of banking, business and academe do not include imputing sin. There may be offenses and even crimes against the balance of the ecosystem, but not sins, unless science really has become a religion. The irony is that many who impute sins to those who disrupt the balance of nature, also defend and promote unnatural acts among humans.”

  25. Imrahil says:

    There may be offenses and even crimes against the balance of the ecosystem, but not sins, unless science really has become a religion.

    And there Fr Rutler goes too far. As the example proves: Is it a sin to, say, litter a plastic bag or tin can into the meadows?

    The answer is obvious: yes, it is; a venial one, I guess, but obviously a sin.

    Is it a sin to kill an animal in order to experience the pleasure of killing (not for a sensible reason)? Yes, it is.

    Similarly, it is obvious that the same goes for the ecosystem. A rather important part of this is obviously the fact that men are affected by its adverse changes.

    (With which I am not saying that a day that God sanctified by miraculously bringing about an entirely sinless woman is a good occasion for yet another talking-to in these matters.)

  26. Semper Gumby says:

    Imrahil: You make a reasonable point. And your last sentence is well said.

    That said, I’m sticking with Fr. Rutler here. That is, he does not “go too far.” Please note he was taking a wider view and making a serious point about the who-what-why-when-how. Your selection of one sentence for criticism misses the forest for a single tree. Cheers.

  27. robtbrown says:

    1. The name was Pierre Teilhard de Chardin. Pierre was the first (Christian) name. Teilhard de Chardin being the family name (Surname). Among French nobility those with the more simple surnames, e.g., de Robien, are the older nobility. Those with the more complex surnames, e.g., Burin des Rosiers, are later nobility–17th cent or so.

    2. The fundamental question of Creation is why there is something rather than nothing. Hawking thought–incorrectly–that any demonstration that necessitated a First Cause of everything (whom we call God) depended on Time having a beginning. Thus, he posits a singularity at the beginning with leakage.

    I have no objection to the universe being billions of years old. The six days of Creation described in Genesis doesn’t mean that it refers to the first six days of existence.

    3. Evolution is a different matter. There are two components to the question.

    a. From Material Cause (material structure): Evolutionists consider the difference between, say, a human and a horse is the arrangement of matter, the former being more complex. And this difference is the result of the forces of random mutation (Darwinists–Lamarck posited a difference explanation). Granted that such a rearrangement would be possible, it becomes a question of probability. For example, erosion changes the shape of stones. Thus, it has to be granted that it is possible that the statues on Easter Island were formed by erosion–and it becomes a question of probability. Ditto the famous example of a chimp at a word processor: How long would it take for it to accidentally write the Gettysburg Address? Or even Happy Birthday?

    b. From Formal Cause: This is a question of whether the function of a human brain is qualitatively different than that of a primate. From this point of view, I have no objection to the possibility of the successive existence of fins, wings, and arms. All are appendages that move to displace water, air, or the ground–there is no qualitative difference. The function of human intelligence, however, is qualitatively different from anything done by primates. There is no record of a primate having read a book, much less written one. Thus, it is not possible that a primate generate a rational animal.

    4. Yes, bi-location is a miracle because it cannot be produced from natural efficient causes. There are basically two kinds of miracles: quoad substantiam and quoad modum. Bi location is the former.

    5. The word scientia can be used in more than one way. It is used supernaturally, one of the seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit, and someone like Padre Pio would have insight most others lacked. It can also be used to refer to charismatic grace, in scientia infusa.

    6. Naturally, scientia refers to knowledge, ranging from empirical to theoretical.

  28. robtbrown says:

    Stephen C says,

    Poor little Einstein spent the last 40 years of his life bragging about his small advances in a very small (less than 4 percent) description of the world he lived in his whole life.

    Einstein rejected Newton’s idea that Space and Time are substances in themselves, instead saying they are aspects of things rather than things themselves. Space and Time, which were returned to the oncepts of St Thomas, occupy a very important foundation in Cosmology–not 100% but certainly not 4%.

    And then there is Newton’s rejection of circular motion, rejected by Einstein.

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