Promoting A New Synthesis Of Faith And Reason
Truth, Freedom and Religion Editorial Inspiring the Young to Lifelong Marriage Edmund Adamus Is Allah the God of the Bible? Michael Nazir-Ali The Human Mind, Material Things and Argument William Newton Interview: F r Joseph Laracy meets Prof D. Lambert, author of a new book on Mgr Georges Lemaître, of the “Big Bang” theory Holloway on The Catholic School Cutting Edge Gregory Farrelly Book Reviews: Science and Religion by John Hedley Brooke The Making of Men by Paul Shrimpton Louder than Words by Matthew Leonard Praying the Rosary by Denis McBride
Issue: Volume 48 Number 3 May & June 2016 Price: £4:50 faith.org.uk
EDITORIAL: Truth, Freedom and Religion
Inspiring the Young to Lifelong Marriage Edmund Adamus
Is Allah the God of the Bible? Michael Nazir-Ali
The Human Mind, Material Things and Argument William Newton
Cutting Edge Gregory Farrelly
Interview: Fr Joseph Laracy meets Prof D. Lambert, author of a new book on Mgr Lemaître, of the “Big Bang” theory
Edward Holloway on The Catholic School
Book Reviews Science and Religion by John Hedley Brooke The Making of Men by Paul Shrimpton Louder than Words by Matthew Leonard Praying the Rosary by Denis McBride
Editor: Joanna Bogle, email@example.com Editorial Board: Patrick Burke, Hugh MacKenzie, Andrew Nash, Luiz Ruscillo, Andrea Fraile, Tim Finigan, Christina Read Book Reviews Editor: Andrew Nash Subscriptions & Enquiries: Sister Andrea Fraile, 104 Albert Road, Glasgow G42 8DR or subscribe on-line at www.faith.org.uk, firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Manager: Scott Deeley, email@example.com
Truth, Freedom and Religion
t’s a free country” we used to say, when someone wanted to do something slightly ridiculous. Go ahead, walk around the streets with a placard saying
“The End is Nigh”, eat mustard on your jam sandwiches or join the Mormons and denounce tea-drinking – it’s a free country. Is it? We can still do some ridiculous things if we like. But increasingly, Christians seem to be treated harshly by public authorities – even criminalised – for upholding in public some aspect of Christian morality, specifically sexual morality. The idea of a creative tension between freedom of speech and the needs of the community, of a shared desire to serve the common good, is under attack. Are we free? We need to claim our freedom and make use of it. The Christian voice is needed in Britain. The great St John Paul said that religious freedom is “the basis of all other freedoms and is inseparably tied to them by reason of that very dignity which is the human person” (letter to the Secretary General of the United Nations, 1978).
Tradition Speaking in Westminster Hall in 2010,
The Church is concerned with truth – the
Pope Benedict XVI spoke movingly
truth about God and about man. And
about Britain’s heritage of constitution-
as St John Paul often repeated: there
al government: “Your common law tra-
can be no true freedom without truth.
dition serves as the basis of legal systems in many parts of the world, and your particular vision of the respective
rights and duties of the state and the individual, and of the separation of powers, remains an inspiration to many across the globe”. The Church is interested in all that concerns human life and human flourishing. Freedom, justice, the rule of law, family life, good stewardship of natural resources, care for the poor and vulnerable, are not abstract concepts or the stuff of merely political discussions: they are bound up with each Christian’s life and eternal destiny. The Church is concerned with truth – the truth about God and about man. And as St John Paul often repeated: there can be no true freedom without truth. The truth cannot be, and does not need to be, imposed. It “imposes itself, quietly and with force” (Gaudium et spes). Truth is inexorably bound to freedom. Living in the truth – individually and as a community – establishes men and women in dignity. And 1
it is not necessary to blunder around in the dark wondering how to find out about truth, nor do we need to follow the example of the ruler who asked, with a mixture of cynicism and real sadness, “What is truth?”
Benedict at Westminster At Westminster Pope Benedict highlighted the specific contribution made by St Thomas More – “the king’s good servant, but God’s first”. What does that mean for men and women today: what is the place of religious belief in the political process? “This country’s parliamentary tradition owes much to the national instinct for moderation, to the desire to achieve a genuine balance between the legitimate claims of government and the rights of those subject to it. While decisive steps have been taken at several points in your history to place limits on the exercise of power, the nation’s political institutions have been able to evolve with a remarkable degree of stability. “In the process, Britain has emerged as a pluralist democracy which places great value on freedom of speech, freedom of political affiliation and respect for the rule of law, with a strong sense of the individual’s rights and duties, and of the equality of all citizens before the law. While couched in different language, Catholic social teaching has much in common with this approach, in its overriding concern to safeguard the unique dignity of every human person, created in the image and likeness of God, and in its emphasis on the duty of civil authority to foster the common good. “And yet the fundamental questions at stake in Thomas More’s trial continue to present themselves in ever-changing terms as new social conditions emerge. Each generation, as it seeks to advance the common good, must ask anew: what are the requirements that governments may reasonably impose upon citizens, and how far do they extend? By appeal to what authority can moral dilemmas be resolved? These questions take us directly to the ethical foundations of civil discourse. If the moral principles underpinning the democratic process are themselves determined by nothing more solid than social consensus, then the fragility of the process becomes all too evident – herein lies the real challenge for democracy.” The Pope emphasised that the Church did not seek to impose the Catholic faith in any formal sense into the political and constitutional arrangements of the nation. It is in the very nature of Christianity that it functions at every level and in every aspect of life: it permeates everything.
Faith and reason “The Catholic tradition maintains that the objective norms governing right action are accessible to reason, prescinding from the content of revelation. According to 2
this understanding, the role of religion in political debate is not so much to supply these norms, as if they could not be known by non-believers – still less to propose concrete political solutions, which would lie altogether outside the competence of religion – but rather to help purify and shed light upon the application of reason to the discovery of objective moral principles. This “corrective” role of religion vis-à-vis reason is not always welcomed, though, partly because distorted forms of religion, such as sectarianism and fundamentalism, can be seen to create serious social problems themselves.
A two-way process “And in their turn, these distortions of religion arise when insufficient attention is given to the purifying and structuring role of reason within religion. It is a two-way process. Without the corrective supplied by religion, though, reason too can fall prey to distortions, as when it is manipulated by ideology, or applied in a partial way that fails to take full account of the dignity of the human person. Such misuse of reason, after all, was what gave rise to the slave trade in the first place and to many other social evils, not least the totalitarian ideologies of the twentieth century. This is why I would suggest that the world of reason and the world of faith – the world of secular rationality and the world of religious belief – need one another and should not be afraid to enter into a profound and ongoing dialogue, for the good of our civilization.”
Human flourishing And so the current attempts to marginalise Christianity in the nations of the West is a matter of concern to all who genuinely have human flourishing at heart. The Church must be free to work: to run schools and institutions of social care, to be present in prisons and in places of higher education, to publish and debate and be active in politics locally and nationally, and in the arts and in the worlds of science and sport and all sorts of community events. And the Church must be allowed to be true to herself – to preach Christian doctrine and Christian morality, in and out of season.
Freedom It is not the place of the Church to seek an
The Church must be allowed
official position of power: all that is required
to be true to herself, to preach
is freedom to be the Church. Truth has its own power and influence, and will prevail because of its very nature. What is required must come from the Church herself: courage, good leadership, faith and commitment on the part 3
Christian doctrine and Christian morality, in and out of season
of the Church’s members and especially her bishops. People will rally to what is great and good and noble and uplifting, even if it costs them to do so. This was the lesson of the 20th century and especially in the Poland that produced St John Paul. The truth about marriage, for example – the lifelong union of one man and one woman, open to new life and the foundation of a family – is not something that will go away simply because the government of a nation, or institutions that it funds and promotes, want it to do so. It will fade however from minds and hearts and consciences and everyday life if the Church fails to teach it, and teach it publicly: bishops, priests, catechists, teachers, lay men and women in positions of leadership and responsibility as well as mothers and fathers in families. Sometimes – often – the Church will be a “sign of contradiction” and will speak out in ways that will annoy the powerful and the fashionable. Sometimes – often – Catholics will need to reflect on the heritage of martyrs, noting the example not just of heroes and heroines of long ago but of more recent times. There are plenty to note in recent decades: Poland’s Jerzy Popiełusko, beaten and drowned by thugs in his country’s police force; his compatriot St John Paul, surviving an assassin’s bullet in St Peter’s Square and an attempted stabbing by a schismatic priest; Archbishop Oscar Romero, slaughtered while celebrating Mass, Pakistan’s Shabaz Bhatti, Minister for Minorities in his country’s government, killed by a gunman in Islamabad in 2011.
What really matters? Experience has shown that seeking to impose a special status for the Church does not always work well: much of what we see in Ireland and in Spain today is a reaction against a sense of that imposition. To some extent, the very specific heritage of Britain’s Catholicism – what might be called the Thomas More tradition – draws its strength from a recognition of a sense of upholding truth against officialdom, and its weakness in recent years has tended to flow from attempts to feel part of the “establishment”. It is the zeal of the Church that matters, not its status. In Britain we have popular Catholic schools that are justifiably supported by public funds. We have a right to such schools in a pluralist society, and they are often over-subscribed. But sadly, too often the religious education in those schools is woefully lacking in sound Catholic orthodoxy. Too many young Catholics say “The religious education in my Catholic school was just useless. The teacher didn’t seem to believe the Faith, and even opposed basic moral teachings.” The problem comes from within the Church, not from any lack of formal recognition. We have our freedom to run our schools – we need to use it more effectively.
Truth The Vatican II document Dignitatis humanae states:
“This right of the human person to
religious freedom is to be recognised in the constitutional law whereby society is governed and thus it is to become a civil right. It is in
“The right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature”
accordance with their dignity as persons — that is, beings endowed with reason and free will and therefore privileged to bear personal responsibility — that all men should be at once impelled by nature and also bound by a moral obligation to seek the truth, especially religious truth. They are also bound to adhere to the truth, once it is known, and to order their whole lives in accord with the demands of truth. However, men cannot discharge these obligations in a manner in keeping with their own nature unless they enjoy immunity from external coercion as well as psychological freedom. Therefore the right to religious freedom has its foundation not in the subjective disposition of the person, but in his very nature...” Truth and freedom go together. This is an aspect of the Church’s teaching that has not yet been fully developed and needs to flourish in the 21st century as we ponder the message of the great Council of the Church that was held in the 20th, following two ghastly world wars and the imposition of atheism on vast tracts of the globe. The Church does not seek to coerce people into belief. If we are allowed to seek truth, and to live in truth, there will be a flowering of the Church, and all will benefit. For that to happen, Catholics need to be courageous, both in asserting their right to religious freedom, and making use of it when they have got it. “Do not be afraid”.
Inspiring the Young to Lifelong Marriage Edmund Adamus Edmund Adamus introduces an initiative for young Catholics in London
ince 2013 the Diocese of Westminster has been working with the Explore educational charity to
provide a “remote marriage preparation” experience in the diocese’s high schools and parishes.
2014, with the help of a grant from the Celebrating Family Fund from the Catholic Bishops’ Conference, a Local Development Officer for the project was appointed. Four parish youth/Confirmation groups and almost a dozen schools have taken part in sessions during which more than 1500 young people have had a chance to dialogue with married couples about what makes their marriage work. The feedback from these “workshops” is overwhelmingly positive. One student said: “It gave me a better understanding of how marriage works.” Another said, “You can overcome anything in a relationship if you truly love each other and want to try.” Explore is an educational charity (Students Exploring Marriage Trust) and founded by Rex Chester, a Catholic living in Portsmouth diocese. It provides students with the unique opportunity of being able to put personal questions to a volunteer couple about their own experience of being in a committed long-term relationship.
Affirmed and encouraged This methodology enables students to take “charge” of the sessions, and to engage in independent learning with real people. Ask any teacher of RE or PSHE and they will tell you that talking to students in a classroom about relationships and sexuality is a very challenging task, one they’d rather someone else deliver and often lacks resources that are either relevant or engaging in terms of Catholic truth and teaching. The beauty and effectiveness of Explore is that a married couple can share their own lived experience about the challenges of love and forgiveness, about pressures of time, children and work and about the need for honesty and communication to keep 6
the relationship alive and well. Many of the couples are committed Christians and, as spouses enlivened by personal faith, are comfortable sharing about how prayer, spirituality and worship often form the backbone of their sacramental commitment and identity. This is not found in any text book and the young people are genuinely affirmed and encouraged by the honesty and openness of the couples.
Thinking about life decisions An Explore session will normally take place in a classroom during a scheduled RE lesson or sometimes as part of the Relationship and Sex Education or PSHE programme. Some schools even provide students with a whole morning to focus on this important topic which allows them to dialogue with more than one couple. When asked if they see themselves as being married one day the vast majority of students (normally 90–100%) will put their hands up. However most of them have not taken the time to talk about this with a trusted adult or even to think about that crucial life decision. Therefore each session starts by getting the students to answer the question, “What are your hopes and fears for the future regarding marriage?” This then provides them with ideas about the questions they wish to ask the couples. The resulting dialogue can cover a huge number of different topics including children, money, faith, fidelity, sex, work/life balance and much more. In a rare piece of publicity, the Explore workshop was positively reported in the “Faith Register” section of the Times Saturday supplement on 24th January 2015 by Bess Twiston Davies, with a subtitle “Catholic schoolboys are soaking up the wisdom of married love.”
Volunteers In order for this important work to reach as many young people as possible the LDOs [Local Development Officers] operate in many regions and counties. In Westminster diocese, Mary McGhee is looking for volunteer couples and for individuals who can help facilitate these classroom dialogues. Sitting with a group of adolescents and answering their questions about your marriage might sound scary but it is actually a really life-giving and enriching experience for the couples who volunteer and the young people are often amazed and inspired to see that marriages can last and that love can grow through a life time. If you are a retired couple or have flexible working arrangements and would like to be involved in this exciting and fulfilling ministry we would love to hear from you! All you need is a willingness to share your experience of married life and a commitment to the teachings of the Catholic Church. Those who are married but unable to commit as a couple or single, divorced or separated individuals who would like to be part of this apostolate are also invited to become facilitators (Adviser Coaches). This role involves preparing the young 7
people for the dialogue and providing support to the couples during the session. The Diocese will provide support and formation for both the couples and facilitators and your travel expenses will be met.
Pope Francis Finally, we take encouragement in this work of remote marriage preparation from Pope Francis who declared recently (address to Roman Rota 22/1/2016), “Therefore, with a renewed sense of responsibility, the Church continues to propose marriage in its essential elements – offspring, the good of the spouses, unity, indissolubility, sacredness – not as an ideal for a few, despite modern models centred on the ephemeral and the transitory, but as a reality that, with the grace of Christ, can be lived by all the baptised faithful.” This is our hope and prayer for all the young people who experience Explore – that they may see through the ordinary life-experience of couples, the extraordinary Christ-centred fidelity of spouses, shaped and refined by the beauty of a lifetime of love and commitment. More information can be found on the Explore website, www.theexploreexperience. co.uk, or by contacting Mary McGhee on 07786737437 or firstname.lastname@example.org. uk, For those living in Brentwood diocese, contact Anna McCormick anna.mccormick. email@example.com Explore is also working in many other areas across the UK. For more information about volunteering for Explore outside of London, please contact Chris Ford, CEO of Explore, on Fordsatfareham@aol.com
Edmund Adamus is Director of Marriage and Family Life for the diocese of Westminster
Letter to the Editor
Dear Editor, We invite nominations for the 2016 Catholic Women of the Year. Any Catholic woman can be nominated - we are looking for the “unsung heroines”: these may be women who are active in their local parish or community, in visiting the sick or imprisoned, in preparing children for First Communion or helping with projects for the aged or housebound. There are women upholding Catholic values in education or in public or professonal life. There are Catholic women who raise funds for charity, take sick pilgrims to Lourdes, or are simply good friends and neighbours to those in need and joyful examples of Christian living at work and at home. Nominators may think of women who have been particularly helpful to them in their own journey of faith or, in this Jubilee Year of Mercy, women who particularly exemplify one of the corporal or spiritual works of mercy. All that is required is a letter, setting out, ideally on one page, the reasons why the person concerned is worthy of nomination. We are glad to receive nominations for women of all ages and backgrounds - single, married, consecrated religious. There is no financial reward, but the chosen Catholic Women of the Year are special guests at the annual Luncheon, which will be held in the Autumn. Nominations should be sent to: Catholic Women of the Year 2016, 33 Ashburnham Tower, Worlds’s End Estate, London SW10 0EE or by completing the form on our website: www.cwoy.org The deadline for nominations is May 30th. Patti Fordyce, Chairman, Catholic Women of the Year Committee
Is Allah the God of the Bible? Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali
he Second Vatican Council’s declaration on relations with non-Christian religions
(Nostra aetate) is shot through with a desire to be as positive as it can be about them: this tendency was both noted and complemented by Dominus Iesus of 2000 which emphasises the
uniqueness and sufficiency of the Revelation in Jesus Christ. Regarding Muslims, Nostra aetate tells us that “they worship God, who is one, living and subsistent, merciful and almighty, the Creator of heaven and earth.” Interestingly, and helpfully, it does not locate the source of such belief in the Qur’an or the Sunnah of the Prophet of Islam. So how have Muslims come by such belief? There is a debate raging at the moment in the United States as to whether Allah can refer to the God of the Bible or whether we are referring to the concept of another being altogether. It seems clear that the Islamic doctrine of God as set out, for example, in Surah Al Ikhlas (112) is contrary to the doctrine of the Incarnation and may have been formulated precisely to deny such a possibility. Similarly, the injunction not to say “three” of God is understood to be a rejection of the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity (4:171). There is a strong emphasis on the unicity of the Divine Being, understood almost mathematically. It is true that the Trinity is misunderstood to consist of the Father, the Son and the Virgin Mary (5:119f) and Christians are supposed to believe that God is Christ (rather than that Christ is God, his eternal Word, the second Person of the Trinity). Nevertheless, even when all misunderstandings have been cleared away, we are left with a Qur’anic doctrine of God which is fundamentally incompatible with that of the New Testament. Is that the end of the matter then, or can something more be said? Dominus Iesus, interestingly, distinguishes between “theological faith” and “belief”.This may provide a clue for a way forward: Scripture teaches that all people have some knowledge of a Supreme Being in their reading of nature and in the testimony of their own hearts, however much such knowledge may have been distorted by individual and corporate sinfulness (Rm. 1–2). When Muslims speak of Allah, are they always referring to the Qur’anic doctrine or are they speaking from this, more diffuse, background of what 9
has been called general revelation? Indeed, can Islam itself, or another religion, reflect, however imperfectly, such a revelation or what Dominus Iesus calls “aspiration”?
Mission Behind such theological argument lurks the question of Mission. How can we communicate the good news of Jesus Christ in this or that culture, the vocabulary of which has been formed by another religious tradition? As the Catholic theologian, Lamin Sanneh of Yale, asks: how may the Gospel be “translatable” in this or that culture? He finds this “translatability” already in the New Testament, for instance, in the use of Greek, rather than the Aramaic of Jesus and the Apostles, to further the spread of the Faith in the Graeco-Roman world. Here the term “theos” is used of the God and Father of Our Lord, in spite of its palpably pagan associations. In this the New Testament is but following its Jewish predecessors in the Gentile world. So it has been throughout the history of the Church’s mission in different cultures and at different times. This is also true, of course, of the Teutonic “god”, pressed into service by Christian missionaries to designate the Christian God, rather than the pagan deities of Northern Europe. Sanneh himself focuses on his own African background and how pre-Christian words for God are, almost universally, used of the God of the Bible. For Sanneh, such translatability is intrinsic to the Christian Faith and to its task in the world. It is this which, as Pope Benedict has said, enables the Gospel to help cultures find their true centre.
Christian meaning Thus if Arab Christians use the term “Allah”, as they do, hopefully, they are giving it Christian content and meaning, rather than importing Qur’anic ideas into their faith. This is also important for mission and dialogue. As they seek to communicate the Gospel to their Muslim neighbours and friends, they will have a common linguistic and cultural background in which, and from which, to engage but they will also wish to transmit the uniqueness of God’s self revelation in the living, dying, rising again and teaching of Jesus the Messiah. Rather than “knee-jerk” reactions, one way or another, we have to ask how a term is being used by Christians and non-Christians alike, whether its use has been transformed by the Christian message and whether it assists in communicating that message to the culture in which Christians find themselves. This will, indeed, cast more light on the issue and, perhaps, generate less heat! We need both Nostra aetate and Dominus Iesus to help us in thinking through such important, but difficult, questions for our times.
Dr Nazir-Ali was formerly the Anglican Bishop of Rochster and now runs the Oxford Centre for Training and Research. 10
The Human Mind, Material Things and Argument William Newton William Newton explores a topic often raised in discussions with atheists
ne of the most interesting areas of modern philosophy is the philosophy of the mind. This is because it brings
the philosopher down from his (supposed) ivory tower and into the thick of the battle raging between the theist and the modern atheist. This rests upon the fact that if it is proved that the mind is immaterial, this implies its ability to live on after death. Now, while this does not directly demonstrate the existence of God, it does open up a whole world beyond the material universe and so it makes the average atheist refreshingly nervous that his own position is nothing like as secure as he, misguidedly, tends to think it is.
Arguments Consider the following possibility: you wake up in the morning and discover that your head seems to be missing. You rush to the mirror in order to verify this unexpected turn of events. You see before you your headless body. In desperation you rush back to the bed, pull back the covers frantically searching for your missing head, and so on. If this is at all conceivable this would (it is suggested) imply that the mind and the brain are not the same thing: since we were able to conceive of mind-related activities â€“ such as seeing, deliberating, and worrying â€“ without conceiving of the existence of a brain. It is important to note that this is not to say that, in the universe as we actually have it before us, one can actually sense, think and generally carry on without a head: the French Revolution has proved that this is not the case. Yet, such a scenario is not absolutely or, one might say, metaphysically impossible. It is only impossible in the configuration of the universe that we happen to live in. Compare this type of impossibility to the proposition that two plus two equals five. That is impossible in any universe. Now, the argument runs, what is conceivable cannot be metaphysically 11
impossible (even if it is actually impossible) and we can conceive of a mind-related activity (namely thinking) without a brain. Hence, the mind and the brain must be distinct realities.1 Conceivability arguments derive their heritage from Descartes (cf. Sixth Meditation).2 While they are more fun than many other arguments for the immateriality of the mind, they are ultimately not very persuasive because they conflate the world of the intellect with the natural world or, as Aquinas would say, intentional existence with natural existence. For St. Thomas, in any created reality, existence and essence are distinct and so something can be conceived as having a certain essence (or nature) without actually existing in the extra-mental world. So, on further analysis, the conceivability argument, as a way to demonstrate the immateriality of the intellect, seems to crumble. Yet, the immaterialist need not panic. While conceivability arguments are popular with those wishing to defend the honour of the soul, there are other more credible arguments for the immateriality of the intellect: less fun for sure, but more robust. So let’s take a short tour of these alternatives.
Intellectual concepts A better argument comes from a consideration of the properties of intellectual concepts. Here I am referring to the numerous ideas we have of different things, such as the idea of dog, apples, tables and so on. In all cases, the idea we have of these is to be distinguished from the images we might have of a dog, an apple or a table in our imagination. The difference is that in an idea or concept all the particulars are stripped away. My idea of “dog” fits all cases of dog and so does not include any particular size, shape, colour, location and so on. In contrast, any image I might have of a dog, either in my imagination or on some media (a painting or a photo, for example), must include at least some of these characteristics. If I imagine a dog, it is of a particular shape, colour, orientation (standing/sitting/jumping), and so on. Another way of expressing this is that concepts are universal whereas images and any other material representation are particular. The consequence of this is that any material representation of a thing cannot possibly be what we mean by a concept because it will be, by definition, particular and not (like a concept) universal. Take as an example a triangle: no material representation of a triangle (such as a triangle drawn on a blackboard) can ever capture the essence of what a triangle is. Not only will it have imperfections – not quite straight lines, and so on – but it will also be either an equilateral, isosceles or scalene triangle: and hence not representative of “triangular-ness” in general. But if our conceptualising depends on a material representation of a thing (say a neuron-firing sequence in the brain) it simply cannot be universal knowledge. As
a material representation, the neuron-firing pattern is no different from the chalk marks on a blackboard. Neither escapes the world of the particular.3
Concepts As we have seen, concepts are immaterial since by definition they are devoid of material characteristics. This statement can be understood in two ways: first, that concepts are entities that capture the essence of a given thing but remain aloof from its individuating material particulars (such as shape, size, colour); second, the concepts themselves do not have material characteristics: my concept of “tree” has no flavour, location, smell and so on. So from both points of view, a concept is immaterial. In fact, there are some concepts that cannot even be represented in the particular: such as justice and eternity. These are unimaginable – though not inconceivable.4 But a power that could produce and deal with an immaterial thing like a concept must itself be immaterial according to the axiom “to act follows to be” (agere sequitur esse). This axiom itself seems sound because the range of possible actions of which something is capable is truly determined by its nature. A human can reason because he has human nature while an apple tree can grow apples because it has the nature of an apple tree. Accordingly, if there is an immaterial action (such as ideo-genesis/ conceptualising) it must be the product of an immaterial power. Another way of saying this is that no effect can be greater than its cause.
Material things The two arguments above for the immateriality of the intellect rest upon the alignment of the
Concepts are immaterial since
universal with immateriality and the particular
by definition they are devoid
with materiality. The world of the immaterial and the material may also be distinguished on
of material characteristics.
the basis that the immaterial is determinate whereas the material is indeterminate. A famous artist paints his wife, Anna, and calls the painting “Woman in a Blue Dress”. It becomes famous and, accordingly, valuable. An unscrupulous art collector plans arranges for a cat-burglar to steal it. So that the thief will know what to take, the art dealer employs a skilful artist to copy the painting. Now we have the original, which is a representation of the wife, and the copy which is a representation of the original painting. Placed side-by-side they are indistinguishable and yet they represent different things: one represents Anna while the other represents “Woman in a Blue Dress”. The paintings themselves give no indication of what they represent: only something outside of the painting (e.g. the painter) can determine this. 13
This shows that the representations themselves are indeterminate; and this is true of all physical representations (including brain-state representations). But when you think about something – such as your wife – you are definitively thinking about only that thing, not about a representation of that thing or a representation of a representation of that thing. Hence, something other than a mere physical representation must be at work in order to do this determination.5
The essence of things The above example is an example of indeterminacy at the level of knowing the essence of things: knowing what something is. In addition to knowing essences (the “whatness” or quiddity of things) the intellect also reasons, deriving new truths from ones already known. A simple example of this is mathematical reasoning. We start from a knowledge of what “two” means and what “three” means and what “addition” means and from this we conclude, “five”. “Ah ha” shouts the materialist! Now, surely here we do have a case where a mental process is nothing more than a material process because even the most basic of modern computers, such as a calculator, can do this. After all, in a calculator, the pressing of “2” followed by “+” followed by “3” followed by “=” leads to a sequence of purely material (electronic) events that produce a final electronic signal to display the number 5. However, the truth is that the material processes underlying the operation of the calculator are indeterminate because we can use the very same material (electronic) sequence to do a completely different logical procedure. We might make the “2” key to mean “8” and the “+” key to mean “-” and then we will end up with the logical sequence 8-3 equals 5, which is correct but it is a different logical proposition from 2+3=5 yet with the same physical causal sequence. This shows that there is a disconnection between the material process and the logical process and that one cannot be reduced to the other. This disconnect comes from the fact that mental processes are determinate, e.g. 2+3=5 is a unique logical truth and completely distinct from 8-3=5, whereas material processes are indeterminate and open to multiple applications and interpretations.6 Ergo, mental processes cannot be purely material processes.
Reasoning and causality The relationship between a physical cause and its effect is different from the logical relationship between a principle and a conclusion. To put this point another way: X causes Y is not the same thing as X entails Y. When we say that fire causes smoke and that smoke entails fire, while in both cases fire and smoke are being related to each other, we are talking about essentially different types of relationships.7 The relationship between two truths (a logically relationship) is a necessary 14
relationship and it exists even if it is never thought of. The relationship between a physical cause and its effect is contingent in the sense that it only exists if the cause actually produces its effect. Again, physical causes bring about effects that are distinct from the cause itself, whereas when a conclusion is derived from a principle it is nothing more than a deeper insight into the principle. For example, heat in the flame brings about heat in the boiling water: the cause and the effect are distinct realities. But when we derive the conclusion that the internal degrees in a triangle are one-hundred and eighty degrees from the principle that a triangle has three sides, the conclusion is not really a separate truth since it is nothing more than greater insight into the principle. The point here is that we simply cannot reduce logical relationships to the relationships that arise between physical causes and their effects: hence, reasoning cannot be based on a purely material process of causality.
Intentionality One obvious characteristic of mental activity is
One obvious characteristic of
the mind’s ability to point to, or to be about, something other than itself. Hence, when the mind is considering something like “justice” or
mental activity is the mind’s ability to point to, or to be about,
“Paris” it is pointing to something beyond itself
something other than itself
since neither my mind (or mental state) nor your mind (or mental state), or indeed any mind (or mental state), is justice or is Paris. This phenomenon is called intentionality. But a physical phenomenon just does not seem to be able to point to, be about, or to mean anything in and of itself. Take the words “Paris” and “Wuspib” written on a piece of white paper in pencil. At a purely physical level these words are nothing more than a collection of meaningless particles of graphite. Certainly the word “Paris” means something to me when I read it and, as it happens, the word “Wuspib” means nothing at all. But just at the physical level (as a collection of graphite particles) neither one nor the other has any meaning: it points to nothing beyond itself. But if physical phenomena have no intentionality then intentionality cannot be explained by appeal to a brain state alone because all we have there are physical phenomena such as chemical and electric events.
And finally… In conclusion, let’s note that none of the arguments offered here deny that mental activity has some relation to brain activity. Rather, they demonstrate that mental activity cannot be reduced to brain activity or indeed any system of purely material causality. 15
Moreover, this is not a matter of not yet knowing enough about the brain. At least some of these arguments demonstrate that it is metaphysically impossible to make such a reduction. The immateriality of the mind is not just the last stronghold of the gallant immaterialist-theist that shall (given time and more scientific research) inevitably fall to the onslaught of materialism. Despite a popular perception, it is not just part of the mopping-up exercise in a war that has already been won by the materialist. Rather, the truth of the immateriality of the mind is an impregnable fortress. 1
It should be noted that the counter argument does not work. Perhaps the materialist says that he can conceive of a purely material thing that is able to think, e.g. CP30. Hence, he concludes, no immaterial reality is needed for thinking. The answer is that our materialist is not, in truth, concieving of “thinking without an immaterial substance” but rather he conceives only of “thinking with matter present”. But, just because we can conceive of two things existing together (e.g. warmth and humidity) this does not mean they are the same reality in all respects. 2 For a detailed discussion of this argument see Edward Feser, Philosophy of Mind (Oxford: OneWorld, 2005), 29-38. 3 Cf. St. Thomas Aquinas, Disputed Questions on Truth, 10.8, Summa Theologiae I 75.5. See also Edward Feser, Aquinas (Oxford: OneWorld, 2009), 155ff and Herbert McCabe, “The Immortality of the Soul”, in Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays, ed. Anthony Kenny (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1976), 297306. 4 Thomas Crean, God is No Delusion (San Francisco: Ignatius, 2007), 27. 5 Cf. Feser, Philosophy of Mind, 220. 6 For a similar argument based on the indeterminate character of material processes, see James Ross, “Immaterial Aspects of Thought,” The Journal of Philosophy, Vol. 89, No. 3, (Mar. 1992): 136-150. 7 C. S. Lewis, Miracles (London: HarperCollins, 2002), 24-25.
Dr William Newton is Associate Professor of Theology, Franciscan University of Steubenville and Chair of Faculty, Austrian Programme
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Gravitational Waves Dr G.F. Farrelly
t the Easter Vigil after the first reading from Genesis chapter 1, describing the creation of the universe by
God, the prayer that follows says: “Almighty ever-living God, who are wonderful in the ordering of all your works, may those you have redeemed understand that there exists nothing more marvellous than the world’s creation in the beginning except that, at the end of the ages, Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.” The drama of our redemption from sin is not to be denied, especially during Holy Saturday, but the first part of this prayer, and indeed the start of the book of Genesis, can easily be glossed over. The importance of this presentation is that God creates the world out of love and keeps it in being as an act of love, and that this creative act is, as it were, focussed through Christ as the very mind of God, the Logos, as described in the Gospel of John and as foreshadowed in Wisdom literature in the Old Testament. This ‘Scotist’ view of the Incarnation as part of God’s original plan, independent of human sin, is key to the Faith movement’s vision of created reality, grace and nature. The beginnings of experimental science implied no contradiction between faith and reason. Newton himself saw gravity, a key element of his own study in physics, as implying, perhaps, a supernatural mediating power. In a letter to Richard Bentley, Newton wrote: “‘Tis inconceivable that inanimate brute matter should (without the mediation of something else which is not material) operate and affect other matter without mutual contact...Gravity must be caused by an agent acting constantly according to certain laws, but whether this agent be material or immaterial is a question I left to the consideration of my readers.”1 Newton was not orthodox in his theology and, of course, we do not need a supernatural mediator to describe gravity – Einstein’s General Relativity will suffice – but the supernatural and the natural/physical are correlative in the Faith theology. Truth cannot contradict truth, so when I read about the recent discovery of gravitational waves I was both excited, as a physics teacher, and delighted as a Catholic, seeing in this another sign of God’s creative power and wisdom manifested in the universe. The underlying gravitational mathematics I view as a specific 17
delineation of a particular physical aspect of the essential structure of created reality, the Unity-Law of control and direction. On 11th February, the LIGO (Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory) collaboration announced that it had detected gravitational waves, as predicted by Einstein. The published paper2 involved getting 1,000 researchers to agree, involving around 5,000 e-mails. The discovery launches the field of gravitational-wave astronomy, enabling studies into the structure and origins of the universe. According to David Castelvecchi’s account in Nature3, Marco Drago, at the Max Planck Institute for Gravitational Physics in Hanover, Germany, saw a graph showing the signature ripples in spacetime produced when two black holes collide. At first he thought it must be one of a series of “injections”, test signals to ensure that the detectors are running correctly, but then found no such injections had taken place at that time. Gabriela González, a LIGO physicist, took data for another month to compare the graph with the natural ‘noise’ from the detectors. This verified that the graph was showing a true signal. The researchers then performed computer simulations. These confirmed that the data matched the predictions of Einstein’s general theory of relativity, made in 1915. As the two black holes orbited each other (past tenses have to be used because such astronomical observations involve looking back into time), they warped the fabric of spacetime, generating gravitational waves for an estimated 1.3 billion years. There are two LIGO stations, 3,000 km apart, in Louisiana and Washington. LIGO’s twin interferometers bounce laser beams between mirrors at the opposite ends of L-shaped, perpendicular, 4-kilometre-long vacuum pipes, as shown in the diagram below4. A gravitational wave will alter the length of the pipes, causing the lengths of the laser beams to vary very slightly. As physics students will know well, the slight differences in path length for waves superposing cause interference patterns, rather like the rainbow effect on a patch of oil on the road or the colours formed by the surface of a DVD. By the time the waves from the black-hole merger arrived, they had become tiny ripples, changing the length of the pipes by just 1 part in 1 billion trillion. Both LIGO stations detected the signal at essentially the same time, indicating that the signals were coming from the same event. Although astronomers had accumulated compelling evidence for black holes by observing their surroundings, the LIGO signal is the first real direct proof of their existence. Some would question the value of spending $200m used to upgrade LIGO, asking “What use is this knowledge?”, yet all of us as humans have a God-given intellect. It is that inquiring mind that seeks to know the mind of God as it is imprinted on the material universe, God, who are wonderful in the ordering of all your works.
1 J. Gleick, Isaac Newton (New York: Knopf Doubleday, 2007) 2 B. P. Abbott et al. Observation of Gravitational Waves from a Binary Black Hole Merger, at https://physics.aps.org/featured-article-pdf/10.1103/PhysRevLett.116.061102 3 http://www.nature.com/news/gravitational-waves-how-ligo-forged-the-path-to-victory- 1.19382 4 http://tinyurl.com/hv663a4
Gregory Farrelly has a PhD in Nuclear Structure Physics and an MTh in Modern Systematic Theology and is a member of the Institute of Physics.
COME TO THE ANNUAL
MARTYRS’ WALK following the route taken by the Catholic martyrs of the 16th and 17th centuries in London
Sunday 26th June 2016 Meet 1.30pm for 2pm in the churchyard of St Sepulchre-without-Newgate, Holborn, junction with Old Bailey (nearest tube ST PAUL’S). Finishing at Tyburn Convent, 8 Hyde Park Place London W2
Benediction 4pm followed by Tea Sponsored by Catholic History Walks. Enquiries: 07816 422851
The Father of the “Big Bang” theory Fr Joseph L aracy Fr Joseph Laracy talks to Prof. D. Lambert who has recently produced a new book on the life of Mgr Georges Lemaître, famous for the “Big Bang” theory.
ominique Lambert, professor at the Université de Namur in Belgium specialising in cos-
mology and the philosophy of science, recently completed a major biography of the great 20th century physicist, Mgr Georges Lemaître. As we approach the 50th anniversary of Lemaître’s death in June, this interview, by Fr Joseph R. Laracy of Seton Hall University (South Orange, NJ, USA), gives readers of FAITH a unique glimpse into the life of this extraordinary Belgian priest. Dominique Lambert explained first some of the background to Lemaître’s work: In 1927, Mgr Lemaître was the first scientist to explain what we call today the “Hubble law”, stating that the speeds of the far galaxies are proportional to their distances, in all directions of the universe. He explained that using a solution of Einstein’s equations of General Relativity corresponding to an expanding universe. In 1931, Lemaître introduced the “Primeval Atom” cosmology which can be considered as the prehistory of the Big Bang cosmology. In the latter, the universe begins by an initial singularity and its expansion is governed by gravitational attraction but also by a repulsion (described by the famous cosmological constant). This force is responsible for the fact that now the universe is accelerating. This is confirmed by more recent
Lemaître introduced the “Primeval Atom” cosmology which can be
observation and the origin of this repulsion is now attributed to the “dark energy”. At that time, Lemaître was also one of the first who
considered as the prehistory
thought about fossil radiation. He believed that
of the Big Bang cosmology.
this radiation was made of cosmic rays. Since 1965 and the discovery of the Cosmological 20
Microwave background (CMB) by Penzias and Wilson, we know that Lemaître was wrong. But, studying the properties of the trajectories of the cosmic rays detected at high altitude (the so-called Störmer Problem) he contributed to deep mathematical foundations for the theory of the Polar Aurorae.
Many people are surprised to know that a Catholic priest formulated the Big Bang hypothesis. How did his Christian faith influence his professional work as a scientist? In fact Abbé Lemaître made an epistemological distinction between his science and his faith. He said that he followed “two paths to truth”. The reason was that he refused to reduce God’s action to a natural cause. For example, following Thomas Aquinas, whom he studied carefully at the Louvain Université in 1919, he insisted many times on the fact that creation (in the theological sense) cannot be confused with natural beginning (as it is described by physics). But, Georges Lemaître said sometimes that faith gave him optimism
Georges Lemaître said sometimes that faith gave him optimism in his scientific
in his scientific career because he knew
career because he knew that the deep
that the deep enigmas arising from
enigmas arising from the study of the
the study of the universe had some
universe had some definitive answers.
Did Lemaître ever encounter resistance or discrimination in scientific circles due to his faith and status as a Catholic priest? Yes he did! Some scientists like Einstein and Hoyle suspected that he introduced his cosmology due to some religious motivation. But it was not true and this explains why Lemaître insisted so strongly on the distinction between science and faith. Long after his death, some physicists continue to suggest that Lemaître had apologetic motivations for introducing his Primeval Atom Hypothesis. What is true, and maybe paradoxical, was the fact that Georges Lemaître, a priest deeply rooted in his faith and his vocation, introduced for the first time a way to describe, not philosophically or theologically, but from physics, the notion of the beginning of the universe.
While much of his research focused on the field of cosmology, he was not limited to one branch of physics. What were some of his other interests? Mgr Lemaître made many contributions outside of the field of cosmology: in the Theory of Spinors (after learning from Eddington and Elie Cartan’s books), in Classical Mechanics (three-bodies problem) and in Numerical Analysis (he invented many original methods: rational iteration, a kind of Fast Fourier Transform). He also worked 21
on an original new kind of elementary arithmetic. His last scientific papers written in Berkeley in 1964 were dedicated to the three-bodies problem. He remained thus highly active till the end of his life in fields which are not restricted to cosmology. We have also to mention his deep interest in computers. He worked on the Vannevar Bush’s machine (differential analyzer) at the MIT in the 1930s and at the beginning of the 1950’s, in Louvain, he introduced the first computer, the Burroughs E101, and he programmed it inventing a new language.
Cardinal Mercier, Archbishop of Malines, ordained him to the priesthood. Tell us about their friendship. Cardinal Mercier gave to Lemaître much freedom to allow him to continue to study physics and mathematics during his seminary time. Canon Jules Allaer, a close friend of Cardinal Mercier who was rector of the seminary (“Maison Saint Rombaut” in Mechelen) in which Lemaître entered in 1920, welcomed him in a fraternity called the “Friends of Jesus” (Les amis de Jésus). This fraternity was part of a special project of Cardinal Mercier who wanted to gather his priests in small groups aimed at sustaining their spiritual and sacerdotal lives. Within this fraternity, Lemaître made a vow of poverty and a vow by which he offered all his life to Christ (votum immolationis). Making long retreats with the “Friends of Jesus”, he also dedicated one hour each day after his Mass to silent worship. Cardinal Mercier was conscious, from their first meeting, of the exceptional scientific and spiritual personality of Georges Lemaître.
While his scientific articles are widely available, did he do any writing in the area of theology or spirituality? Lemaître was not a theologian. He did not write books on theology or on spirituality. But in 1936 he wrote a paper where he explained his view on the relations between science and Faith. In fact he said that the unity between both is realised in the action of a person who is at the same time scientist and believer. His position looks like the one of Blaise Pascal, an author he liked to quote even in scientific contexts. In his notebooks, written during his spiritual retreats, we can find something concerning his study of John Ruysbroeck, the famous Flemish mystic whose books he studied in an old version of Dutch. In the Bible he liked the Book of Isaiah which he quoted many times (“Deus absconditus” (Is, 45: 15) and the Gospel of St John. During the First World War, the psalms were the principal source of his meditation.
What was he like as a person? Did he have hobbies? He loved joking and he was very kind with his students and his colleagues even if they did not share his views and faith. Lemaître played a very important role welcoming 22
foreign students in Louvain, especially Chinese students. He was a close friend of Fr Lebbe who played a very important role in the Catholic Church in China before the Second World War. He was the first Director of the Chinese House in Louvain in the 1930s. Lemaître had learned the Chinese language during his seminary time (1920–23). Mgr Lemaître was a very good musician. He played the piano, especially Chopin and Bach. He was also interested in French literature and he dedicated some work to Molière. In fact he wanted to prove that another author could have written some of Molière’s plays.
Tell us about your book on Lemaître. It’s based on Lemaître’s personal
This great scientist who became a close friend
archives, on testimonies from
of Albert Einstein was also a priest, faithful to
his family and his collaborators, and
recently discovered documents concerning
the teachings of the Catholic Church and deeply rooted in his spiritual and sacerdotal life.
It describes the evolution of his scientific ideas but also of his conception of the relationship between Science and Faith. In particular, I have tried to understand how this great scientist who became a close friend of Albert Einstein was also a priest, faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church and deeply rooted in his spiritual and sacerdotal life. The book describes his personality, his family and his life as a professor at the Catholic University of Louvain (Leuven) as well as his relations with the Church (and with the Popes: Pius XI, Pius XII, St. John XIII and Bl. Paul VI).
D. LAMBERT, The Atom of the Universe. The Life and Work of Georges Lemaître (Preface by P.J.E. Peebles), Kracow, Copernicus Center Press, 2015.
Summer Session 2016 for young people 15–30 Monday 1st – Friday 5th August 2016 talks – prayer – social time An opportunity to explore the riches of the Catholic Faith more information at www.faith.org.uk 23
Holloway on The Role of the Catholic School This is an abridged version of an Editorial in Faith Magazine for September/October 1972 by the then editor and Founder of the Faith Movement, Fr. Edward Holloway. He was responding to a recently published pamphlet by the Catholic Teachers Federation, ‘Are Catholic Schools Divisive?’
Home, Tabernacle, School: One Family of God Let it be clear in all our teaching and preaching about the Catholic School, that we are not asking for them to “keep the children safe” from other faiths, nor to be sure that they will always hear a Catholic rejoinder in the history class. We begin with the home. Education begins there, education in the knowledge and love of God, and his full revealing of himself in Jesus Christ. The home, because it is the focus of values, human and divine, is also the first and primary seat of the right to educate. This is the primary right touched upon by the Catholic Teachers’ leaflet which states basic well-worn Catholic doctrine. They write: “The Church states with the utmost clarity that it has no desire to remain away from the world in a state of isolation. Christian education is in the world and for the world ... man must work out his salvation in the concrete situation in which God has placed him; not by protection but by contributing to the whole human community of which he is an integral and inseparable part ... parents, who have the first and the inalienable right and duty to educate their children, should enjoy true freedom in the choice of their schools, etc.” The spiritual life of a man intertwines with his cultural life, and profoundly influences that cultural unfolding. The formation of the home leads quite naturally to the local parish, Tabernacle of God with men, around which the local family of God gathers for the common life in Christ of
The spiritual life of a man intertwines
the Eucharist, Sacrifice and Sacrament.
with his cultural life, and profoundly
The argument is not changed when the
influences that cultural unfolding.
Catholic school is inter-parochial, for it is the same Lord and God in all the 24
parishes of any catchment area, whether the school be junior or senior. The parish unit will never lose its function and relevance in the Church, any more than the family will, but in the modern world with its wider interchange, it will become increasingly an organism in the wider grouping of the district, just as the district, through the pastoral centre, will become more aware of itself as an organic member of the diocese. This is true developmental progress, ardently to be desired and sought just now.
The State not neutral We are asking for the right to educate a generation which, from the beginning of its school life, is going to be profoundly trained in the wisdom and love of Christ in the Catholic school. Now, just as this process must begin in the home, so must it continue with the primary and the middle school, and it is greatly to be desired if it can continue on into the modern senior comprehensive, notwithstanding the enormous costs involved. We are realists, we will do our best, but the People of God number many weak, apathetic, confused and carnal members. We cannot achieve miracles where the home background does not help us. We can love, cherish and care for, with a fierce compassion, those children whose family background deprives them from their cradle, and neither do we condemn their parents, whose human spirit has often been itself blasted and crucified before its adolescence. We love them, so does Christ, and we will try. So does Jesus Christ. The Catholic school is not “divisive” in this respect, except in the sense in which Christ is “divisive” and said he would be, in as much as his teaching was a challenge, and the loyalty he called for overriding. We do not apologise for this challenge and this loyalty, nor for the teaching of Christ. The Humanists, or the militants among them, and the neo-modernists who run by their side, are the most active in calling for the abolition of “divisive” schools. The same people, where the permissive society has not yet reached its extreme limits in the granting of generalised drug use, abortion on demand or housing aid for married homosexuals, and what have you, will demand all of these things in the name of the “free cultural exchange of the plural society”. Very well then, they are hoist with their own petard: we demand and defend our Catholic schools in the name of the same cultural and personal freedoms, within a very “plural society”. It is nonsense to suggest, and honest people know it, that the religious formation of the local authority school is an adequate Christian spiritual formation, even in the primary schools. There is a total confusion in doctrine, a variety of practice and a generalised belief that a general inculcation of “all things bright and beautiful” is enough. In the middle and senior schools, the State-school religion passes over into embarrassment, farce or plain general debate. The State cannot be blamed for this. The State school must reflect the general common denominator of the wishes 25
and expectations of society at large, while upon these general expectations the intellectual and cultural leaders who write many of the textbooks, especially those which are optional, but on the “passed as suitable” list, will push a little more in a Humanist or anti-institutional Christianity direction. The writer, as parish priest, has read such optional textbooks from Catholic schools in his own area, and is not making comments without actual knowledge. The State in fact cannot be neutral. The very decline of the influence of the Christian Church, itself partly due to failure to find a new synthesis of faith and reason, and then to live it in fervour of spirit, has thrown increased formative responsibility upon the State. The very Humanists who have so often denied the right of the Church to “indoctrinate” are not slow to rush in to do exactly this, in the name of a new age, and the formation of a generation who will enable mankind to survive, etc, etc. It comes over in all the modern debates—economic development and resources, use of environment, pollution, population, the “doomsday” debates. It comes over just as significantly, and with much more direct indoctrination, in school programmes upon sex, love, and marriage and human relationships, upon attitudes to drugs, race and religion.
The very pluralism and agnosticism of the society they live in makes modern children keen and earnest questioners when they pass into the middle and senior schools.
Even politics cannot be ruled out any longer. The modern child is very alert mentally, and among the middle classes especially, very sophisticated and adult for his age. The very pluralism and agnosticism of the society they live in makes modern children keen and
earnest questioners when they pass into the middle and senior schools. The senior schools are adult colleges in fact. Nowadays, it is they, the pupils, who take over the pace and the direction of every human discussion and question, from the pressures of their need, and the vitality of their keen young minds. We are asking the right to teach, preach, form and evangelise. We have a very tough proposition upon our hands, and our theological teaching will have to be a darned sight better than in the past. These young adults do not need the Humanists, the Modernists or anybody else to protect them from priests, teachers and parents. In general, they are exquisitely sincere, wonderfully kind and very honest, even about their weakness and their plain intention to enjoy their sins. They present us with a chance and a challenge, a heartbreak, and a searching knife which peels away our own insufficiency. We should cling to this chance, and demand it in the name of human and parental rights, but these children cannot, in a Catholic school, be “sheltered” from the world outside!
The school and the world In the stormy sea of modern life, the Humanist (he used to be called the Rationalist) and the generalised agnostic is as much tossed on the waves as we are. We are not going to let him take our schools from us on the pretence that they are divisive, when the â€œLittle Red School Bookâ€? and many another such publication, proves that self-division cuts our poor, modern society not just in two, but in many pieces. We demand our right, as a coherent community still, to put our case and form our young. We will not be able to do it, unless the case itself appeals, and takes root, and makes disciples. We know that. While our schools will need to be a lot better than they were, in terms of spiritual and intellectual power, thirty years ago, we will also need a theological formation much better than the nebulous waffle which has passed for formation in catechetics this last ten years. Many young men and women of 18 today have told me that they have had no definite teaching in their faith since the age of 12 ... just endless sociological dialogue. Of course, if that were all the Catholic school had to give, we would hardly have a spiritual or cultural case, but we have much more to give, and you will find its outline, for all ages, in the General Catechetical Directory. The argument that the Catholic school is in some way anti-ecumenical
Many young men and women of 18 today
is plain nonsense, of course. We must
have told me that they have had no
have, in the pulpit and in the school, definite teaching in their faith since the age and also in the home, definite, full, doctrinal
of 12 ... just endless sociological dialogue.
to give wisdom and fulfilment, but the whole tenor and atmosphere of the Church since the end of the Second Vatican Council means that a negative approach to other churches, other faiths, other people is now totally impossible. We seek true ecumenism, and its foundation is full faith, deep charity and tremendous personal, spiritual effort to live the integrity of Christ in morals, as well as in faith. This is why we want the Catholic home, the Catholic school, and far more good, holy and balanced vocations to the priesthood of Christ.
It’s Complicated – Not Simplistic Science & Religion — Some Historical Perspectives by John Hedley Brooke (1991; new ed. 2014), Cambridge University Press, 566pp. Reviewed by Philip Miller One of the Facebook relationship-status options offered to users is the now-famous phrase “it’s complicated”, and in many ways that could sum up the relationship between faith and science. Many would like to characterise the interplay between religion and science in all sorts of simplistic ways, but the thesis of Science and Religion is that to do so would be utterly false. The blurb on the back cover of the volume puts it succinctly: “science and religion have been mutually relevant in so rich a variety of ways that no simple generalisations are possible.” It is to be noted that this is not a new publication, but a newly published edition of a 1991 book. Brooke takes us on a thorough historical journey through various phases of the science–religion interactions, but at each stage is at pains to explain the complexities and express the interweaving dynamic of mutual challenge and enrichment. For example, on the one hand, when St Thomas Aquinas in his great mediaeval theological works treats theology as the “queen of the sciences”, yet “the subordination of metaphysics to theology did not necessarily entail an obstruction to the study of nature” (p. 81) — it “had not resulted in a sterile fusion” (p. 84). On the other hand, in the legendary cases of “scientific martyrs”, such as Giordano Bruno († 1600), the reality was often that they were not tried for their scientific claims, but for other heterodox assertions. Bruno, a Dominican friar, held to all sorts of novel, and nonChristian, opinions on faith, giving credence more to exotic ancient-Egyptian beliefs than to orthodox Christology; and while he also followed a number of astronomy hypotheses, such as the existence of a plurality of worlds, yet it was not this that sealed his unfortunate fate. While Brooke does not buy wholesale into the ‘conflict’ hypothesis between science and religion, neither does he imagine that any marriage between the two was an easy relationship. He brings out the tricky path that believing scientists did have 28
to tread so carefully as the mediaeval Church gave way to the counter-Reformation Church, simultaneous with the beginnings of the Scientific Revolution. Clerics like Nicolaus Copernicus († 1543) managed to do just that, to proceed cautiously but in accord with their observations and calculations. Johannes Kepler († 1630), too, while bringing his enormous skills in astronomy to bear on the workings of the heavens, was able — just! — to integrate the new Copernican thinking with a preserved understanding of the uniqueness of humanity’s place in the universe. Robert Boyle († 1691) also navigated the differentiation between science and religion with a style that did not also necessitate complete separation: “Boyle distinguished [the book of Scripture and the book of Nature] but without setting them in opposition. The study of Scripture, he suggested, did nothing to hinder an inquisitive man’s delight in the study of nature” (p. 103). Another aspect of Brooke’s book on the interplay between science and religion is that of the question of whether a Catholic milieu, or a Protestant one, favoured the advance of science. Was there, in fact, a “parallel between scientific and religious reform”? Brooke brings out the historical complexities of such a claim, reminding us of the political drama that accompanied the religious upheavals, and which thereby had its implications in a varied receptivity to the “new science”, Yes, the Copernican system came to be taught quite widely in Protestant circles — though neither Luther nor Calvin themselves were in any way advocates of its acceptance. But of the two greatest advocates of the Copernican revolution, Kepler was a Protestant and Galileo a Catholic. The “Galileo affair” itself is notoriously complicated — as Brooke brings out — and Galileo’s condemnation by Pope Urban VIII was in the main a reaction against his statements on the use of Scripture, more than his advocacy of Copernican astronomy. Catholic sensitivity to Protestant critique had meant that the Council of Trent had forbidden any interpretation of Scripture that went “contrary to the unanimous consensus of the Fathers”. It was by this dogmatic principle that Galileo unfortunately found himself cornered, and while “there was indeed a range of enlightened opinion within the Roman hierarchy at the time of Galileo’s trial … the trial itself was not averted” (p. 62). Certainly there can be no facile statement that it was Catholicism itself that obstructed the advance of science in Galileo’s day. A crucial chapter of the book analyses the reception of Darwin’s 19th century ideas on biological evolution. Brooke reminds us that “two quite different meanings could … be attached to Darwin’s Origin [of Species] — that it was consistent with a biblical religion (as long as one did not take Genesis literally) and, conversely, that it undermined it. Because the prospect of evolutionary progress could become the basis of alternative religious creeds, the religious response to the Darwinian challenge is remarkable for its diversity” (p. 376). Once again, then, Brooke’s thesis is that men of religion, while challenged — as all men were — by what was a remarkable 29
new discovery, reacted in a variety of ways including finding plenty of room for convergence. “Their point was that Darwin’s critique did not touch the central thrust of their [Christian] doctrine, which was that everything ultimately owed its existence and preservation to a power transcending the natural order” (p. 379). These reflections on Brooke’s scholarly work are but a ‘taster’ of the whole sweep of his volume, which is in the area of his academic expertise. The work certainly helps the reader re-evaluate common, and often misguided, simplistic opinions on the relationship between faith and science, and therefore can do much good in showing how both are expressions, by no means incompatible, of the human mind, spirit and life.
Fr Philip Miller is the Parish Priest of St Augustine’s, Hoddesdon, and has a doctorate in radio astronomy.
How Newman put his ‘Idea’ into Practice The ‘Making of Men’ – The Idea and reality of Newman’s university in Oxford and Dublin, by Paul Shrimpton, Gracewing, 587pp, £25. Reviewed by Andrew Nash
ewman’s Idea of a University continues to be one of his most influential books. It is still referred to in discussions about
the purpose and nature of higher education today on both sides of the Atlantic. Indeed, its two key principles – that knowledge should be pursued for its own sake rather than just when it is useful, and that knowledge is incomplete and distorted if it doesn’t include knowledge about God – are more relevant than ever in our consumerist and secularised age. But even if Newman’s educational thought is still discussed, his practice, as carried out in the Catholic University he founded in Dublin, is very little known. In fact, people often think of Newman as an ivory tower intellectual who did little practical work. Paul Shrimpton’s The ‘Making of Men’ – The Idea and reality of Newman’s university in Oxford and Dublin redresses this skewed view and in doing so makes a major new contribution to Newman studies. It was as a tutor in Oriel College that Newman first had the chance to put into action 30
his view of what university education should be like – and it proved to be controversial. He saw a tutor’s role as more than that of academic tuition. For Newman, it was fundamentally a pastoral role, with the tutor responsible for his students’ moral and spiritual welfare as well as their scholastic progress. He thus had what we would today term a ‘holistic’ approach to education – it was about forming the character as well as the mind of young people. He treated his students in a friendly manner, developing a personal relationship with them, though one which was always within the context of tutor and student. Newman’s approach was always ‘heart speaks to heart’ – the motto he was to choose years later when he became a Cardinal. It was indeed the ‘making of men’, not just teaching them to pass exams. But the Provost of Oriel resented Newman’s influence, and before long stopped assigning any more students to him. This experience was to prove influential when Newman came to design the Dublin university years later. Newman wanted his new Catholic university to incorporate the strengths of Oxford, with its academic rigour and emphasis on the cultivation of the intellect and its historic religious (albeit by now Protestant) life. But it was to address Oxford’s weaknesses, particularly in its pastoral care of the students. Newman set up houses of residence – mini-colleges – each headed by an academic who would act as his students’ tutor and pastoral mentor.
These were liberal in atmosphere, by the
standards of Catholic Ireland of the time. There were billiard tables, smoking and a lively in-house social life – Newman wanted to keep the students away from the less desirable social temptations of a big city like Dublin. And the heads of these houses were laymen who were encouraged to be fatherly in their attitudes to their charges. What may well surprise readers even more is that Newman himself took on the role of one of these heads of houses. This meant that while he was Rector of the university, constantly engaged in its day to day administration and grappling with its financial affairs, he was at the same time running a household of young men, dining with them every day, getting to know them personally, dealing with their problems and giving them spiritual as well as academic guidance. During all this he had a heavy schedule of writing: papers for the university’s publications, sermons and of course, his constant correspondence with his fellow Oratorians in Birmingham. And he was frequently making the sea voyage back and forth between Ireland and England to keep both institutions running smoothly. All this for a man in middle age – how on earth did he have the energy? Shrimpton has done an immense amount of research to reveal this day to day work of Newman’s; there is much new material here from which Newman’s putting into practice of his university idea emerges in rich detail. We see him dealing with all the upsets and crises which are inevitable in academic institutions. He had to manage the other heads of houses, some of whom proved unsuitable to their 31
demanding role and had to be replaced. Inevitably some of the young men proved less amenable than others to even the kindest discipline. In his dealings with the young men Newman was no martinet, yet nor was he a pushover. He often gave miscreants a second chance, but he was firm when someone had to go – he knew how dangerous bad influence could be among a peer group. Eventually, the Dublin university lost momentum; it struggled to survive after Newman resigned as Rector. (It just about managed to do so, only reviving when the Jesuits took it over later in the century, and today’s University College Dublin is proud to count Newman as its founder.) But it is clear from Shrimpton’s account that the failure of the original vision cannot be blamed on Newman. The Irish bishops had always been equivocal in their support – some were openly hostile – and perhaps the dream of an English-speaking Catholic university was simply unrealisable within the United Kingdom at that time. On his return to England, Newman was approached by some Catholic parents and asked to found a school, along the lines of the traditional Public Schools but Catholic in character, and the result was the Oratory School, which still continues today and is the subject of Shrimpton’s earlier work A Catholic Eton? which showed Newman’s same vision at work in pre-university education. The contrast between what Newman was providing for his students in Dublin and the hands-off free-for-all of today’s universities is all too evident. Do any modern academics think they have a pastoral role in their students’ lives? Indeed, a mixture of legal constraints and political correctness makes it impossible. Newman’s model of a university has had no imitators in the UK, though there are honourable examples in the US, albeit mostly on a small scale. Towards the end of The ‘Making of Men’, Shrimpton optimistically says that the time for such a Catholic university has now come, but that seems an unrealistic prospect to the present reviewer. The Catholic Church in both the UK and Ireland is now weaker than ever, wracked by the abuse scandals, and with massive lapsation among the young. There is no chance we could afford to found a university, and we would struggle to fill it with students or staff. But perhaps in countries where the church is young and growing, in Asia or Africa, Newman’s vision will one day be revived. In the meantime, this book, full of fascinating details, will be an inspiration to all Catholic educators. Newman’s tireless work with young people was heroic, and Shrimpton’s meticulous and very readable account has added a valuable new aspect to our understanding of the great man.
Andrew Nash’s edition of Newman’s Lectures on the Present Position of Catholics in England is published by Gracewing, and his edition of Newman’s Essays Critical and Historical, Vol.I, will appear later this year.
Not Adequacy but Sainthood Louder than Words: The Art of Living as a Catholic by Matthew Leonard, Our Sunday Visitor, 159 pp, £9.99 paperback, £9.49 Kindle edition. Reviewed by Lucy Courlet de Vregille
s sainthood out of our reach? Could I ever live or do enough to be an actual real-life saint? Matthew Leonard, Director
of the St Paul Centre for Biblical Theology, (a non-profit Bible Study institute in Steubenville, Ohio) seems to think we can. The journey toward personal holiness is one central to our journey of faith, yet so few actually imagine themselves one day being canonised in St Peter’s Square. Even Leonard admits “chuckling at the thought of his mug on a laminated holy card”. “God did not call us to adequacy, but to sainthood,” says Mike Aquilina in the foreword. “Matt Leonard wants to wake us up to the fact of God’s power.” A convert to Catholicism after being a protestant missionary in Latin America, it was during his RCIA class that Leonard was struck by the profound importance of aiming for sainthood. The night before his reception into the Church, another candidate remarked, “Look, if I’m going to do this, I want to be a saint.” Louder than Words encourages and motivates those stuck in a rut of tepid or untapped faith to take the plunge, make the effort and leaving false humility behind, to aim high. His propositions for radical change do not include selling up and leaving for the missions but making a change to the attitude and behaviour of every day; breaking bad habits and replacing them with good ones. He says that holiness exists in our comments on Facebook, our understanding of suffering, our self-denial, our openness to the people around us and our striving for God on a daily basis. We are Christ’s face to the world and, as he says, “people should meet Christ when they meet a Christian.” Providing basic catechesis Leonard creates a simple introduction to the main points of Catholic teaching on the Sacraments, prayer, personal holiness and the call to evangelise those around us, with a bit of salvation history thrown in too. What I enjoyed is how Leonard weaves into nearly every chapter, the life and works of a plethora of great saints, coining their best known catch phrases concerning evangelisation and the holy life: St Augustine, St Maximilian Kolbe, St Paul, St John Paul II. Quoting papal encyclicals and the Catechism of The Catholic Church, he forms a rich base of material for his message which remains simple and encouragingly 33
achievable. Leonard presents personal sanctity as very much within reach – undeniably important for those who feel holiness is a strange and beautiful concept somehow reserved only for the great heroes in faith. Using the lives of well-known saints as examples, he admires their holiness of heroic proportions, and then offers a reality check on their less-than-saintly daily struggles; for example, St Jerome’s renowned lack of personal communication, St Vincent de Paul’s quick temper, and others. The aim is to show us that great holiness doesn’t mean to be free from combat, but in fact holiness exists in the very combat of our less-than-beautiful personal habits. He suggests, in a theory straight from St Therese of Lisieux’s “The Little Way”, that to battle with these vices daily is the road to sanctification. According to Leonard, the pursuit of holiness is something we must all strive for – “Our lives must radiate the power of Christ’s grace and the warmth of his love. This is the foundation of our faith” (Pope Paul VI) – and it comes with a responsibility for “my brothers’ holiness”, in other words, evangelisation. But he says that this is not to be feared, as both may be achieved through the positive acts of daily living. As Pope Benedict XVI so beautifully puts it, “In a nutshell, to evangelise means to teach people ‘the art of living’ so as to lead them to life and happiness in Christ.” This very ‘art of living as a Catholic’, is chosen by Leonard to title his book. I imagine Matthew Leonard to be a dynamic speaker. Writing how he speaks, this book can seem most of the time like the transcript from a motivational talk, saturated with turns of phrase, just like he’s having a chat with you about something that really inspires him. Perhaps rather unfortunately, for those of us who are not so familiar with American culture, one runs the risk of getting a little lost in the references to past US TV programmes, or confused by metaphors comparing American football to the holy life. Distracted or amused by Americanisms, his description of St Thomas More – “think good Darth Vader with a cool accent” – leaves me amusingly puzzled. Although heavily influenced by US culture and with a humour perhaps more tailored to the other side of the Atlantic, Louder Than Words taps directly into the worldwide resource base of the Universal Church. Furthermore, Leonard’s background of adult conversion from the protestant faith may encourage others in a similar RCIA situation; the book includes parts of his testimony that, together with his casual approach and earthy presentation of the faith could be found both reassuring and motivating.
Lucy Courlet de Vregille is a member of the Emmanuel Community and lives near Bordeaux with her French husband and baby.
Mary helps us to know her Son Praying the Rosary - a Journey through Scripture and Art by Denis McBride CSsR, Redemptorist Publications, 136pp, £12.81 Reviewed by Sue Butcher
raying the Rosary is a slim, attractive book, designed to support the reader in praying the mysteries of the Rosary
using scripture, meditations and art work. I particularly like the way the book is structured: each mystery begins with a New Testament passage so that the prayer is rooted in scripture, followed by a reflection to guide the reader’s thoughts and encourage meditation on the mystery. Only then is the piece of art introduced which in itself gives another interpretation of the mystery. Each picture is accompanied by brief details about the art work and the artist and further ideas for reflection. Finally there is a prayer inspired by the mystery. The reflections are interesting and thought provoking. At a time when the Rosary and devotion to Our Lady are too often neglected or dismissed as sentimental, Denis McBride emphasises the strength and dignity of Mary and demonstrates how closely her life was bound to her Son’s in the plan of Salvation. He reminds us that as Mother of God she was a real person – not just a pious idea – and that we need our relationship with her to grow as she helps us to know her Son. When we pray the Rosary we are not listening to stories of long ago and far away. We are meditating on the fact that God has visited his people in a real time and at a real place. In praying the Rosary we engage with the people and events of the Gospels and discover their significance for our lives now. The images used in the book span centuries and continents. The first two joyful mysteries illustrate this. The picture for the Annunciation is by John Collier, the chief sculptor for the Catholic Memorial on the site of the World Trade Centre in New York. The image for the Visitation is an ivory plaque commissioned in Milan in 968 by Otto the Great, the first Holy Roman Emperor. John Collier’s picture shows a traditional Gabriel with wings and flowing robes and includes a pot of lilies signifying purity and a dove symbolising the Holy Spirit but is set on the doorstep of a modern house with a fourteen-year-old school girl Mary in blue and white pinafore and unlaced shoes. The quiet serenity of this very young Mary and the contrast between the ordinary setting and the extraordinary visitor creates a moving and tender scene. 35
Equally poignant is the ivory carving of Mary and Elizabeth embracing, faces pressed together and each gazing at the other with Mary gently touching Elizabeth’s bump. The stylised figures are almost identical as they support each other, rejoicing in their miraculous pregnancies. Most of the pictures used are paintings on canvas, but there are altarpieces to illustrate the Baptism of the Lord, the Transfiguration, the Crucifixion, the Assumption and the Coronation of Our Lady. Denis McBride takes us beyond the obvious in these images and points out significant details to improve our understanding: for example, the young man in the background of the Baptism preparing for his own baptism and the three elders who are there as enemies and cast a shadow over the scene. Stained glass is used to illustrate the Nativity, and the Ascension is shown in an alabaster panel made in Nottingham in the fifteenth century. This shows Jesus’ feet and the hem of his robe as he leaves this world and focusses on Our Lady and the apostles who have been left behind. All the pictures are moving, but I was particularly taken with the two illustrating the second and fourth sorrowful mysteries. The first is Caravaggio’s ‘The Flagellation of the Christ’ and shows a chilling and private event; we are the only witnesses to the three men, half hidden by darkness, who force the Lord against a pillar, grabbing His hair and kicking Him as they prepare to beat Him, the cruelty in their faces contrasting with His own quiet dignity. The light in the picture shines on the still unmarked body of the Christ, and we are drawn in to the brutal realism of the scene, knowing that the torture is about to begin. The second picture is also dominated by the dark, but this one is full of people. ‘Christ Carrying the Cross’ was painted by Hieronymus Bosch in 1515 and depicts Jesus carrying His cross surrounded by faces mostly with cruel and distorted features. Veronica has just wiped His face and moves away, a beautiful unmarked face imprinted on her veil. The good thief looks away from the men abusing him while the impenitent thief gives as good as he gets. Simon of Cyrene tries to take some of the weight of the cross from the Lord’s shoulders, and in the middle of the noise and chaos Jesus closes his eyes and continues His journey, carrying our sins on his back. Praying the Rosary is a well thought out and beautifully presented book which would make a lovely gift for a Confirmation. It is easy to read and encourages us to keep returning to the Rosary. In his brief introduction Denis McBride states that his hope is “that these reflections will be a real support to you in praying the Rosary and help you in some small way, to grow personally closer to the loving lives of Jesus and Mary.” Having read the book I would say that he has been entirely successful.
Sue Butcher is a Catholic mother of six and a playgroup assistant.
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Published on May 21, 2016