Signs from God: Science Tests Faith

Science tests faith: Well known investigative reporter Michael Willesee rediscovers his faith in his 50s, through his personal experience and live reporting of miracles within the Catholic Church. In 1998 he made a report entitled Signs From God on the appearance of stigmata displayed by a woman, Katya Revas, in Bolivia among other miracles. Scientists put these miracles to the test live on TV hosted by the Fox Broadcasting Company.

See the full playlist for ‘Signs from God: Science Tests Faith’.

The Goal of Education

“What are philosophy and theology, and why are they crucial to a young person’s education today?”

From ‘Why Study Philosophy and Theology?‘ by Peter Kreeft:

‎The Goal of Education

Considering the trillions of dollars spent on universities by parents, governments and foundations, it is amazing that most of the people who go there (the students) and most of the people who pay for them (the parents and the government) never even ask, much less answer, this question: What is the purpose of the university? It is the most influential institution in Western civilization, and most of us don’t really know exactly why we entrust our children to them.

The commonest answer is probably to train them for a career. A B.A. looks good on your resume to prospective employers. That is not only a crass, materialistic answer, but also an illogical one. ….a student should study to get high grades to get an impressive resume to get a good job, to finance his family when it sends his kids to college to study, to get high grades, et cetera, et cetera.

This is arguing in a circle. It is like a tiger pacing round and round his cage in a zoo. Is there a better answer? There is if you know some philosophy. Let’s look.

Probably the most commonsensical and influential philosopher of all time was Aristotle. Aristotle says that there are three “whys,” three purposes, ends or reasons for anyone ever to study and learn anything, in school or out of it. Thus there are three kinds of “sciences,” which he called “productive,” “practical” and “theoretical.” (Aristotle used “science” in a much broader way than we do, meaning any ordered body of knowledge through causes and reasons.)

The purpose of the “productive sciences” (which we today call technology) is to produce things, to make, improve or repair material things in the world, and thus to improve our world. Farming, surgery, shipbuilding, carpentry, writing and tailoring were examples in Aristotle’s era as well as ours, while ours also includes many new ones like cybernetics, aviation and electrical engineering.

The purpose of the “practical sciences” (which meant learning how to do or practice anything, how to act) is to improve your own behavior in some area of your own life. The two most important of these areas, Aristotle said, were ethics and politics. (Aristotle saw politics not as a pragmatic, bureaucratic business of running a state’s economy, but as social ethics, the science of the good life for a community.) Other examples of “practical sciences” include economics, athletics, rhetoric and military science.

The third kind of sciences is the “theoretical” or “speculative” (contemplative), i.e., those that seek the truth for its own sake, that seek to know just for the sake of knowing rather than for the sake of action or production (though, of course, they will have important practical application). These sciences include theology, philosophy, physics, astronomy, biology, psychology and math.

Theoretical sciences are more important than practical sciences for the very same reason practical sciences are more important than productive sciences: because their end and goal is more intimate to us. Productive sciences perfect some external thing in the material world that we use; practical sciences perfect our own action, our own lives; and theoretical sciences perfect our very selves, our souls, our minds. They make us bigger persons.

Papal Primacy and Biblical Typology

There is a parallel between the two Davidic kings (David and Jesus) in relation to the Prime Ministerial authority. As St. Augustine says, the New is hidden in the Old, and the Old is revealed in the New; it’s what’s called the Biblical typology, where the Old Testament aspects foreshadow their fulfilment in the New Testament. In the first Davidic kingdom (type, or foreshadowing), the King delegates his authority so that the Prime Minister is able to speak with the authority of the King (Is 22:15-25). This is fulfilled (anti-type) in the New Testament, where the Prime Minister for the New Davidic King speaks with the authority of the New Davidic King (Mt 16:18-19). We see this in various parallels between the two:

  • There is “office” (Is 22:19, Acts 1:20 [which apply to the Apostolic offices])
  • There is succession of office (Is 22:19, Acts 1:20:)
  • Authority is given (Is 22:21, Mt 16:19)
  • Fatherhood is bestowed (Is 22:21, I Corinthians 4:15)
  • Key(s) given: “key of the house of David” (Is 22:22), “keys of the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 16:19)
  • Power to make binding decisions: “he shall open, and none shall shut; and he shall shut, and none shall open” (Is 22:22), “whatever you bind on earth shall be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” (Mt 16:19)
  • Stability and protection promised: “peg in a sure place” (Is 22:23), “on this rock.. powers of death shall not prevail” (Mt 16:18)

Now, Matthew 18:18 and John 20:23 show collegiality of the College of Bishops. This in no way reduces the Primacy of the office of Peter, as we see in Luke 22:31-32, where the Primacy we’ve seen above is made explicit in relation to the Apostolic college:

“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you [plural], that he might sift you like wheat, but I have prayed for you [singular] that your faith may not fail; and when you have turned again, strengthen your brethren.”

Peter is singled among the Apostles to strengthen his brethren. This befits the new name specifically given to him by Christ, of Cephas (Peter, “Rock”; John 1:42), since Christ is the Wise Man who builds His house on the Rock, and not on sand (Matthew 7:24-27).

Realist Philosophies of Plato and Aristotle

Plato (left) and Aristotle (right) philosophizing.

Realism is a position that principles (like justice) and entities (like cats): 1. exist in reality, and; 2. are knowable by the intellect (Realism is basically articulated common sense).

The difference between the ‘Extreme Realism’ of Plato and ‘Moderate Realism’ of Aristotle is in the entities (things, especially living things, like cats and eggs and people).

Plato thinks that principles like justice are: i. universal, and; ii. transcendent (i. universal, because it’s the same one principle behind many concrete just ‘things,’ like just people or just courts of law, yet; ii. transcendent, since such principles doesn’t intrinsically belong to who they are; for example, ‘just’ people can turn in to ‘evil’ people – the just-ness transcends their humanity).

Because of that, Plato thinks that transcendence (ii.) must be the case with the essence or nature of entities too. However, Aristotle thinks the more common sensical thing and says that, even though their nature is universal (i.) within a species, entities have their natures within them (not ii. – cats all possess the nature of a ‘cat’).

So, if the Platonic focus is more transcendent and other-worldly. Aristotle would bring in perhaps a more pervading sense of highlighting transcendence and nature of things from within the concrete. I think good Realist philosophy upholds both in their respective areas, but, either way, admitting that such principles and entities exist (and are knowable) is a very good start in authentic philosophy.

Role of the Laity in the Church

There is a distinct confusion in the Church today as to the role of the laity. In an attempt to bring about “active participation” in the liturgy Vatican II supposedly called for (the original Latin actually reads “actualparticipation.” ), the Church has become navel-gazing in its mode of operation, forgetting to heed the words of Our Lord to “[g]o into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” (Mark 16:15), not to mention the urgency attached to it: “[w]hoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” (Mark 16:16) Here are some some Vatican II quotes on the proper role of the laity, first from Apostolicam Actuositatem (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity):

Chapter 1. The Vocation of the Laity to the Apostolate.
2. The Church was founded for the purpose of spreading the kingdom of Christ… to enable all men to share in His saving redemption… All activity of the Mystical Body directed to the attainment of this goal is called the apostolate… [The laity] exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel.

Now from the principle document of the Council, the Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium:

10. “…[common priesthood of the faithful and the ministerial or hierarchical priesthood] differ from one another in essence and not only in degree…”

31. “What specifically characterizes the laity is their secular nature. …They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven.”

32. “By divine institution Holy Church is ordered and governed with a wonderful diversity. “For just as in one body we have many members, yet all the members have not the same function, so we, the many, are one body in Christ, but severally members one of another. …yet all share a true equality with regard to the dignity and to the activity common to all the faithful for the building up of the Body of Christ.”

33. “Upon all the laity, therefore, rests the noble duty of working to extend the divine plan of salvation to all men of each epoch and in every land.”

Abortion Harmful to Women’s Mental Health – Study

From Family First (with my emphases):

The study, “Abortion and Mental health: Quantitative Synthesis and Analysis of Research Published 1995-2009” by Priscilla Coleman, Ph.D., took into account 22 studies and over 877,000 participants over the 14-year period. The study also reveals that as many as ten percent of all mental health problems are directly attributable to abortion.

“This confirms and is consistent with previous NZ research which showed that abortion harms women. Abortion harms women but pro-abortion groups refuse to acknowledge this, seeing the right to abortion more paramount than the long-term health and welfare of the women. We believe women have the right to the best independent information and advice before making a decision that could impact them later in life,” says Marina Young, Spokesperson for Family First NZ, who through her own abortion experience formed the Buttons Project.

A University of Otago study in 2008 found that women who had an abortion faced a 30% increase in the risk of developing common mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Other studies have found a link between abortion and psychiatric disorders ranging from anxiety to depression to substance abuse disorders. And the Royal College of Psychiatrists in the UK recommended updating abortion information leaflets to include details of the risks of depression. They said that consent could not be informed without the provision of adequate and appropriate information.

Case against Abortion: Fetal Development

15-week-old Fetus Thumb-Sucking

15-week-old Fetus Thumb-Sucking

In an issue as heated as abortion (or, ‘feticide’, to disrobe the politically-correct label for killing of the fetus), it’s important first to look at the hard cold facts.

Here’s a fetal development chart from the Voice For Life Fact Sheet on the Unborn (Keep in mind in reading this that most abortions [at least in the UK] happen around the 8-9-week period):

1st day the child’s conception takes place
7 day a tiny human implants in the mother’s uterus
10 days the mother’s menses stop
18 days the child’s heart begins to beat

21 days

the heart pumps own blood through separate closed circulatory system with own blood type.

28 days

the child’s eyes, ears and respiratory system begin to form

42 days

the brain waves can be recorded, skeleton is complete, reflexes are present, hiccoughs first occur.

7 weeks

thumbsucking has been photographed, startles first occur from 6-7 1/2 weeks

8 weeks

all body systems are present, isolated arm movements begin about 7 1/4 to 8 1/2 weeks after conception. Breathing movements begin during the eighth week. Stretches first occur during the eighth week.

9 weeks

the child squints, swallows, moves tongue and makes a fist. Rotations of the head also begin from the middle of the seventh week after conception to the middle of the tenth week.

10 weeks

Hand to face contacts first occur 8 to 10 1/2 weeks after conception.

11 weeks

spontaneous breathing movements, the child has fingernails and all body systems are operating. Jaw openings and forward head movement begin during 8 1/2 to 12 1/2 weeks after conception.

12 weeks

the child weighs one ounce

16 weeks

genital organs clearly differentiated, the child grasps with hands, swims, kicks, turns and somersaults (still not felt by the mother)

18 weeks

the vocal cords work and baby can cry

19 weeks

Kenya King’s birth, Florida, June 1985

20 weeks

the child has hair on its head, weighs one pound, 12 inches long

23 weeks

15% of babies survive premature birth

24 weeks

56% of babies survive premature birth

25 weeks

79% of babies survive premature birth

39-40 weeks

normal birth