As I have been putting together these reflections on faith and science in the classroom, there has been a topic looming in the background as the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room: What happens to Christianity if we discover intelligent life on another planet? This question is both compelling and loaded. First off, we need to break down this question into a series of clarifying questions. What do we mean by life? What do we mean by intelligent life? Is intelligent life synonymous with human life? How do we understand the difference between human life and other kinds of life? Can we conceptualize a type of intelligent life that isn’t human life? What does it mean to be made in God’s image and likeness? From these questions, we can develop another series of clarifying questions. What is the role of science in defining life? What is the role of philosophy in defining life? What is … Continue reading →
What is the best way to promote a healthy relationship between faith and science? There are many directions we can take when trying to answer this question. In my opinion, one of the clearest ways is to explore Catholics who were and are active in the sciences. When most people think of people in faith and science, most gravitate toward Galileo and Bruno (topics we will explore in future “classes”). Much could and will be said of these two figures, but what I find interesting is how there are far more examples of Catholics in science that were embraced by the Church as scientists than those who were criticized. Whether it be the “Father” of the Big Bang, Monsignor Georges Lemaitre, or the man whose garden became the crib of modern genetics, Gorger Mendel, what is found in the study of the “Catholics of Science,” both clergy and lay person, is a rich history of key figures that have … Continue reading →
One of the clearest areas of collaboration between faith and science is care for creation. In the Catholic tradition, care for creation has long been accepted as one of the seven themes of Catholic Social Teaching (CST). Though matters of ecology usually spiral into politically driven emotionalism, the approach to care for creation found in CST is quite practical and common sense. For example, as I was out fishing with one of my parishioners, I was reminded of the need for clean water that not only provides for human needs, but builds up healthy ecosystems for the communities we live. As we enjoyed a successful day that included three “keepers” for dinner, I was reminded of a simple fisherman’s ethic that fits nicely with CST: If you want to catch and eat fish from a lake, don’t pollute the lake. The modern theology of ecology derives from three, historic events. On the positive side, the exploration of space and images … Continue reading →
One of the more inflammatory subjects in the United States in regard to faith and science is evolution. The mere mention of the topic can lead to a combative atmosphere with little hope for anything healthy emerging. What I find a bit surprising is the number of brother priests who think that evolution is somehow against Catholicism. Whether it be the Catechism of the Catholic Church when it says that “methodological research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with faith” (CCC 159), Pius XII stating that the material origins of our body evolving from preexisting matter is not against Scripture (Humani Generis 36), St. John Paul II stating the evolution is more than a hypothesis (Message to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences: On Evolution 4), or Benedict XVI stating that it is absurd to think that Biblical creation and evolution are at … Continue reading →
In my previous posts on Science in the Classroom, I’ve presented resources to you on the themes of Awe and Wonder and the question, What does it means to be human? In both sets of resources, what begins to emerge is that a powerful bridge between faith and science is found when the measurable and quantifiable aspects of creation begin to point to a beauty and elegance that sparks a sense of wonder, evoking an organic ethical vision of protecting the dignity of the human person and all of creation. This relationship between “a world of measurements” and “a world of wonder and dignity” reminds me of St. Bonaventure’s classic work, The Mind’s Journey to God. Click here to view a video I did for the Vatican Observatory Foundation, explaining this distinction in the thought of St. Bonaventure. What begins to emerge from the writings of St. Bonaventure is the idea that faith and science explore fundamentally different types of questions, … Continue reading →
This will be the back page for the Sunday, June 03, 2018 (2nd Sunday after Pentecost, Year B) bulletin of Fishkill UMC.
For my doctoral work, I needed to synthesize two chemical compounds. For the first compound, I was going to reproduce some work that had been done a few years before to confirm the structure of the compound.
The interesting thing about this synthesis was that one step in the process had to be done “backwards”. Instead of adding “A” to “B”, I had to add “B” to “A”. “A” to “B” was the traditional approach and the one taught to all students. If you looked at the experimental method, this would have been the method you would have chosen. But if you did this, all your work would have been destroyed in the process. That you had to do this step in reverse order was discovered by the first group and their notes, which I had, noted the importance of changing the order. But had I not had their notes, I would have noted there was a problem in the synthesis and worked out an alternative. Either way, I had to be aware of what I was doing.
The Pharisees were hung up on the details about the sanctity of the Sabbath and felt that it was more important to uphold the sanctity rather focus on the meaning of the Sabbath.
For many people today, Christianity is superficial. Some say they are Christian, but it is only on the surface and they lack the depth that shows the presence of Christ.
When we travel out into the world as representatives of Christ, we must be aware that we are showing the fullness and completeness of God’s Love. ~Tony Mitchell
Here are my thoughts for the back page of the Fishkill United Methodist Church for Sunday, May 27, 2018, Trinity Sunday (Year B)
The author Laurie Beth Jones once wrote that she encountered Jesus meeting her in blue jeans. And when she asked Him why he was wearing blue jeans, He replied that it was because she was in a similar attire. Mother Teresa said, essentially, that the people we see are often Jesus in disguise. Samuel heard God’s voice but did not see Him.
The common image of Jesus is one of someone in a robe surrounded by a shining light. But often, that shining light blinds us to the reality of Christ’s presence.
Today is Trinity Sunday, the day in which we recognize the three identities of God. Just as Jesus was the physical presence of God, the Holy Spirit is the fullness and joy of God.
How do others see the presence of God in this world? Do you see Jesus calling to you or do you just walk on by? Do they see Him in you as you walk among the people?