Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Pope's Easter Homily: God, Not Science, Is Good

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Can man alone make Heaven on Earth?  That has been the theme of secular collectivists for more than one hundred years. But as Pope Benedict XVI stated in his Easter homily this year, without God the scientific and technological advances of man are as much a curse as a blessing:

The darkness enshrouding God and obscuring values is the real threat to our existence and to the world in general. If God and moral values, the difference between good and evil, remain in darkness, then all other "lights," that put such incredible technical feats within our reach, are not only progress but also dangers that put us and the world at risk.

Today we can illuminate our cities so brightly that the stars of the sky are no longer visible. Is this not an image of the problems caused by our version of enlightenment? With regard to material things, our knowledge and our technical accomplishments are legion, but what reaches beyond, the things of God and the question of good, we can no longer identify. Faith, then, which reveals God’s light to us, is the true enlightenment, enabling God’s light to break into our world, opening our eyes to the true light.

As Jews around the world celebrated Pesach (Passover), the holiday that reminds us that God alone can truly liberate us, so Christians around the world celebrated Easter, the holiday that reminds us that divine love and purpose are infinitely more important that the material goodies which entice us to worship Mammon instead of God. 

Faith proved indispensable to the rise of science. There was a “Scientific Revolution” only once in human history and that was in Christian Europe during the Middle Ages. The men who brought about this revolution — Copernicus, Galileo, Napier, Kepler, Buridan, Pascal and others — were without exception devout Christians, and in some cases were actually clerics. The greatest scientific minds in the succeeding centuries — Newton, Lord Kelvin, Maxwell, Planck, and Pasteur among others — were also passionately serious Christians. Only within the last 125 years or so have agnostics and atheists arisen to prominent positions in science, long after the Scientific Revolution itself had been made.   

But still ultimate answers elude us. C. S. Lewis, in his day-by-day meditations for the Christian Year, has for April 9 a wonderful exposition on “The Snag about Materialism,” which notes that if all reality is a materialistic accident, including life and our human thoughts, then what is the reason for believing the thoughts of atheistic materialists in their accidents (these, after all, would just be other accidents)?

Christians and Jews believe in a purposeful universe with orderly laws and an absolute moral foundation that is just as much a part of Creation as the stars and the elements. Strip that away, and the world is left with the amorality of Marxists, Nazis, and other rebels against God. In such a world, no amount of technology or science or medicine can make the world better. 

Dystopian novels have demonstrated that for many decades. Whether it is a Brave New World of Huxley, a book-burning society of Bradbury in Fahrenheit 451, or a 1984 of Orwell, we make only different levels of Hell on our own. Does this sound extreme to us in America today? Then ponder the information superhighway, which connects us with so much that is good: Along with that beneficent potential, we have also a whole new lexicon of nastiness that is also the invention of man: computer virus, malware, Internet porn, and identity theft. Or consider the nature of science fiction that proliferates on cable channels or in film: horror, rather than innocent delight, is what sells.

We forget God not only at the peril of our souls, but also at the peril of the world in which we live. 


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