(exchange #2)

Dear Seapadre:

It seems we do still agree concerning Carl Sagan. He tends to use the cloak of science somewhat arrogantly to justify his own musings.

You mentioned that you sensed fear on my part. You are correct in a sense. In fact, I have begun to research the church on my own because of a personal situation. I am dating a wonderful catholic girl who seems to have all sorts of problems with my athiesm. I am afraid that if I had any children, their ability to think for themselves would be severely compromised. I do not suggest that faith and reason are incompatible, as I have several friends who seem to have successfully reconciled the two as complementary entities. However, a centralized power that dictates what is correct and what is not and is stressed to little children does frighten me. No organization made up of men can think for other people with only the interest of the people in mind.

As for the council of Nicea and philosophy, they represent little reason to me. Philosophy is little more than a debate over semantics, no matter what a philosopher will have you beleive. Religious debates seem to center on scripture written by men and on opinion rather than observed fact and reason.

As for singularities, the General Theory of Relativity on its own predicts that the universe began in a 'big bang' singularity where all the matter in the universe was condensed to a single point. At this point the density of matter naturally would go to infinity, as would the curvature of a four dimensional manifold. Basically, the mathematics of the model just plain break down. The model and therefore all of the theory itself is basically useless at this point. 'Singularity' is actually a mathematical term. But it is taken to be quite a real physical thing in the classical big bang theory. Theoretically, time would stop at a singularity. But the classical theory does not take into account the quantum effects of such tiny regions, which could avoid the whole problem of a singularity.

As for the vatican conference, you are correct. I did read about that in Hawking's book, "A Brief History of Time," which is no longer in my posession. I enjoy Hawking because his view of science is not like Sagan's. Science is a tool to understand. Science (theoretically) obeys only the laws of reason and truth. No doctrine is absolute. A law is correct and useful only insofar as it correctly describes observed phenomena.

Dave Stark


Dear Dave,

First of all congratulations on your Catholic girl friend. I can see however why you might be a little afraid . Have you ever read the poem "Hound of Heaven"? It is a wonderful poem about someone trying to keep a safe distance from God, but encountering Him every turn of the labyrinth of life.

I do think your girl friend's concern is a prudent one. Studies have shown that marriages have a much greater chance of enduring if there is a common faith. Couples that go to Mass together on Sunday actually have a fifty times higher success rate! I know that sounds pretty incredible, but there have been some interesting studies done on that one variable.

Anyway, I am glad you are doing research on Catholic faith. What book(s) are you reading? I think the best starting point for someone like yourself is actually a non-Catholic author, C.S. Lewis. "Mere Christianity" is one of the best introductions I have ever read.

As you sense, the Catholic Church does make some extraordinary claims. They hinge on three basic questions: Does God exist? Is Jesus God? Did he found a Church? Jesus himself made it very personal when, after hearing current theories about who he was, asked directly, "And you, who do you say that I am?" (Mt 16:15)

Christianity is based on observed phenomena. The question for sure is how reliable are the witnesses to the Resurrection. St. Paul says besides himself and the Apostles, Jesus appeared to five hundred people, most of them still alive (I Cor 15:6).

About whether the Catholic Church in practice inhibits children's thinking, that would probably be a good question to address to your girl friend or perhaps some fellow students who are Catholic. Maybe even some on line reader of this dialogue might like to offer a perspective.



P.S. Thanks for the explanation of "singularity." It is mind blowing to think about, isn't it?

Your comments or questions are welcome.

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