Category Archives: Truth

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’.

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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.

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.

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

The Catholic Faith site update

The Catholic Faith project page has been updated, with a new logo and with the addition of several new sections. You are encouraged to download and disseminate the pdf booklets for you evangelical pleasure. From the About page:

The Catholic Faith project aims to assist the lay faithful – the ‘sleeping giant’ of the Church – to know, love, defend and proclaim the Catholic faith.

The greatest commandment given to us as Catholics is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). As such, we must first know our faith, for it reveals God – we cannot love what we do not know.

As we continue to grow in knowledge and love of the faith – which naturally includes living it to the full – the Scriptures also call us to, “go into all the world and proclaim the gospel [euangelos] to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and, “always be prepared to make a defense [apologia] to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15). This is the work of evangelisation and apologetics to which we are all called, as part of the volitional faith that saves us and brings salvation to others (James 2:26, Matthew 25:31-46); but we must first know and love our faith – we cannot give what we do not have.

This is a not-for-profit (other than winning souls!), self-propagating (reader-distributed) project aiming to inform and equip the Catholic fathful for this glorious task at hand!

Scripture and Bias of Tradition?

One of the nuances on the Sola Scriptura doctrine I recently come across is to acknowledge the role of tradition in scriptural interpretation, but as a source of ‘bias’ (correct or incorrect).

As a believer, I would be asking if all tradition is ‘bias’, or can it be more? As a believing Catholic, but also as a believer open to the objective data, I would say it is more. Let me outline a few reasons and data which seems to me to indicate this.

First is Scripture. Upon examining the case of Bereans (Acts 17:11), one sees that these Jews are examining the Apostolic teachings with the Jewish scriptures. Would it be true that “the Bible has authority over church tradition”? This would seem to me to be hasty generalization, for a few reasons. Firstly, the Apostles were teaching new doctrines that went above and beyond the Old Testament, of the Christ who authoritatively fulfilled and also superceded the Law of Moses. The Bereans, in this sense, were checking for consistency with the prospect of Messianic doctrine that would supercede the limitation of their scriptures. Secondly, the Apostolic teaching as superceding the Old Testament is explicitly acknowledged and, in fact, proclaimed, as coming in two modes: “So then, brethren, stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us, either by word of mouth or by letter” (II Thess 2:15). Indeed, this Apostolic word of mouth is considered to be divine revelation: “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” (I Thess 2:13). If one is to go by the scriptural practice of the Bereans, then, it would stand to sense to allow authoritative Apostolic teaching to properly guide scriptural interpretation.

Now, this is not some isolated theory, but, again, found in historical data in the early Church:

Papias:

Whenever anyone came my way, who had been a follower of my seniors, I would ask for the accounts of our seniors: What did Andrew or Peter say? Or Phillip or Thomas or James or John or Matthew, or any of the Lord’s disciples? I also asked: What did Aristion and John the Presbyter, disciples of the Lord say. For, as I see it, it is not so much from books as from the living and permanent voice that I must draw profit (The Sayings of the Lord [between A.D. 115 and 140] as recorded by Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 3:39 [A.D. 325]).

Irenaeus:

For even creation reveals Him who formed it, and the very work made suggests Him who made it, and the world manifests Him who ordered it. The Universal [Catholic] Church, moreover, through the whole world, has received this tradition from the Apostles (Against Heresies 2:9 [A.D. 189]).

True knowledge is the doctrine of the Apostles, and the ancient constitution of the Church throughout all the world, and the distinctive manifestation of the body of Christ according to the successions of the bishops, by which they have handed down that Church which exists in every place, and has come even unto us, being guarded and preserved, without any forging of Scriptures, by a very complete system of doctrine, and neither addition nor curtailment [in truths which she believes]; and [it consists in] reading [the Word of God] without falsification, and a lawful and diligent exposition in harmony with the Scriptures, both without danger and without blasphemy…(ibid. 4:33 [A.D. 189]).

Origen:

Seeing there are many who think they hold the opinions of Christ, and yet some of these think differently from their predecessors, yet as the teaching of the Church, transmitted in orderly succession from the Apostles, and remaining in the churches to the present day, is still preserved, that alone is to be accepted as truth which differs in no respect from ecclesiastical and apostolic tradition (On First Principles Bk. 1 Preface 2 [circa A.D. 225]).

So, historically, Apostolic tradition was not seen as merely a basis for ‘bias’ – no; according to historical and Scriptural data, this view is novel and foreign to both. Church has faithfully obeyed the Apostolic exhortation to “stand firm and hold to the traditions which you were taught by us”, since they recognized the Apostolic teaching as “what it really is, the word of God”.