Science and Religion, a commentary on a sermon

A little while back we had a series of two posts on Faith and Reason HERE  and HERE . We said that we would have a follow-up post on faith and science. In today’s post I wanted to talk about that a little. Now there are different ways of approaching this topic and different areas of this subject to discuss. Today I want to actually look at a sermon and give some remarks on that sermon. The sermon deals with creation and God. I must note before I move on that the sermon is not specifically about the relationship between faith and science itself but on the specific relationship between various “origin” sciences (those usually associated with how the universe or life began and are often associated with theism/atheism debates) and the doctrine that God created the world.

 

Before I begin, I need to make a few points. First of all, this sermon and this post do not cover everything about the topic of faith and science, or creation and science  Actually, the scope of the post is to comment on a sermon. The sermon is pretty broad and does not get into the nitty-gritty of everything but  just defends a  literal Genesis interpretation in opposition to the views of modern science. This is what I will be talking about today so there will of course be certain elements of the debate left for another time. The second point I need to make is that even though I will talk about different areas of science because the sermon touches on these, this does not mean that it is a good idea to lump them together. The two main scientific points called into question are evolution and the big bang. Both of these scientific theories are very different. They are studied by different people, have an entirely different history and origin, are tested and verified differently, are accepted to different degrees, explain two entirely different things, and are not dependent on each other in any way. The sermon gives the feel, as do many other writings from Christians and atheists alike, that evolution and the big bang theory are kind of the same thing taken at a different angle. This is not the case and the only reason I am going to discuss  both in this post is because the sermon talks about both. The last point I’d like to make before going on is that science and faith should never contradict one another. Science is a part of reason which supports faith and of course faith perfects reason as we saw in that previous blog post linked to above. With that in mind, we can proceed.

 

Here is the sermon: http://www.audiosancto.org/sermon/20130811-Embrace-Traditional-Doctrine-on-Creation.html   it is from www.audiosancto.org  which incidentally is usually a very good site—it has lots of good Catholic information which can be very informative and more importantly, spiritually helpful. However, in this case with this sermon, the information is not entirely correct, very misleading, and potentially harmful. I’m sure the Priest is a good man and a conservative, traditional, faithful priest. Let’s make sure we are praying for priests, they need it. Anyway, I’m not going to post what he says, that is why I linked to the sermon. I will just make my main points following what he says. From the top:

 

For about the first minute and a half the Priest introduces the sermon by saying that we are all creatures, or products of the first cause God and we are all dependent on Him. Catholics must agree on this and I’d say that this is the most fundamental part of the doctrine on creation. The reason is that this truth may be known through reason alone and from this truth we can learn many others. It is the base so to speak for God’s revelation on creation. All created things have one thing in common: they are all combinations of a nature and an act of existence. The nature or essence of a thing is what it is. There is nothing about the natures of created things that means they exist. It is for this reason we may conceive of many things, say unicorns, which are logically coherent yet do not exist. There is nothing inherent in a dog that makes it exist, but it does. What makes a dog exist but not a unicorn? Certainly not the nature of the dog or the unicorn, because both could rationally exist, so it has to be that one possesses the act of existence and the other does not. More could be said but this is all for now because it will serve as a reference point for the rest of the sermon.

 

For the next few minutes the Priest discusses creation ex nihilo. This is the belief that God created out of nothing. It is a dogma of the Catholic faith. It simply means that God didn’t make or fashion the universe the way a builder builds a house, He gave it reality. The creation presupposes nothing. God did not generate the universe out of His own nature. God did not create the universe with the cooperation of other beings. God did not work with something outside of Himself to form the universe. God did not use pre-existing laws or materials to shape our world. God simply willed that the universe come into being. One cannot dispute this and remain Catholic.

 

Thus far what the Priest says is accurate. We will pick up in the next post.

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