Angelus is now selling The Realist Guide at a special price: $29.95. See the Buy page

Readable, engaging, enlightening, Realist

Q&A with Fr Robinson - Science and Religion

Ask a Question

To ask Fr Robinson a question, just go to the contact us page.

June Questions

Does quantum physics make it easier to believe in God?

Yes and no. The arguments proving the existence of God stand on their own merit with or without quantum physics, but some people think that quantum physics opens the door for showing that God exists, without their being any other door. Let me start by explaining why they are wrong. (For the extended version, see The Realist Guide to Religion and Science, pp. 384-386) Then, I will explain how quantum physics can point in the direction of God. 


As humans probed deeper and deeper into matter, by means of ever more sophisticated devices, they began to reach an absolute physical limit of what can be measured. The reason is that light beams or photons are used to detect the movement of particles. But light beams have a wavelength of 10-7 meter, while the size of atoms is 10-10, protons 10-15, and quarks 10-20. Thus, light is too fat to measure subatomic particles precisely. It can measure their speed but not their position, or their position but not their speed. Never both at the same time.


Thus far the science. After science comes philosophy. When scientists do philosophy, ludicrous things tend to happen. As a great scientist, Einstein, once said, “The man of science is a poor philosopher.” A certain school of scientists, called the Copenhagen School, took the following philosophical stance: since our measurements of particles are indeterminate, particles must actually be indeterminate. In other words, since we cannot know exactly where particles go or how fast they are going, they must not have regular speeds or position. They must be random!


Now, this is a very clear fallacy for anyone with a lick of philosophy. It is obvious that my inability to measure something precisely does not prove that the thing does not exist precisely. The clear fallacy, though, did not enlighten the eyes of the Copenhagen School, which holds the flag for the majority opinion in the scientific community today.


It only gets worse when scientists do theology. In their minds, if the universe acts in a wholly determinate way, with total regularity, then the universe has no need of God. Why so? Because they feel that once one has provided a natural law for the movement of something, then one has also provided a reason why it exists. They feel that if material things follow determinate laws that allow us to predict their behavior, then there is no need of a God to explain their existence.


This would be like going into a city and observing the traffic and the pedestrians at a street corner. The scientist observer notes that the cars always stop at a red light, while the pedestrians always cross the street at a red light. Since they all follow these consistent laws, which enable the scientist to describe and predict their behavior, he concludes that he has achieved a total explanation of the cars and the people. No other cause is needed to explain them, now that we know that they follow regular laws, and we can safely conclude that the city has no mayor.


So, in the view of these scientist-philosopher-theologians, what would indicate that God is around? The absence of consistent laws! If the behavior of things in the universe did not have a determinate pattern, such that their future movements could not be consistently predicted, that would indicate that there must be a God who is moving them according to His whims. That is why some of them believe that the indeterminacy of subatomic particles might leave the door open for there to be a God. This is one of those notorious “God of the gaps” arguments for God: whenever we find something in the universe that science cannot explain or predict, then we invoke God to fill in the gap of knowledge.


What is going on here? Good science, bad philosophy, and worse theology. Einstein famously contradicted the Copenhagen school by saying, “God does not play dice with the universe.” In other words, Einstein did not think that particles have a random behavior, even though they cannot be measured precisely. And he also thought that there must be (some kind of) God behind a universe that has regular laws.


In conclusion, the indeterminacy of quantum physics is a terrible way to prove the existence of God. A much better way would be to say that, since particles are not self-existing, there must be some self-existent being that sustains them in existence at each moment. Or, you could point to the fine-tuning of the over 100 types of subatomic particles, each with their various properties, to combine in amazing ways to provide the texture for the world we see around us, in order to show that there must be a designing mind behind them that also designed the universe.

  

Question: When it is said that God directly made Adam, is the term “directly” to be understood as if there were no intermediary forces through which God acted? Or are the actual mechanisms of his “direct” creation of Adam in the realm of speculation? For instance, could God’s direct creation of Adam have been effected through Angels?

Answer: Allow me to begin my answer by saying that it is absolutely impossible for any creature to be an instrument through which God works to create. The reason is that creation is different from all other acts of causation (as I explain in great detail in chapter 2 of The Realist Guide). In creation, there is no object that is acted upon when the causation takes place. There is nothing. Then there is something. When we cause, however, there is something, and then we perform an action on that something to change it. In creation, no action is performed on anything. This makes it impossible for God to use any intermediary for the act of creation. Thus, whenever we say “direct creation”, that means that only God is involved. (this explanation is basically the one given by St. Thomas in I, q.45, a.5)


Since a human soul can only be created directly, it would be impossible for an angel to assist God in the creation of a human soul. However, Genesis describes God as forming the body of Adam from the slime of the earth. Since this is a question of taking matter that already exists and modifying that matter, it would certainly be possible for God to use an angel as an assistant. We know that angels can shape matter in the form of human bodies from the story of Tobias, where the angel Raphael took matter and made it into the form of a human body, so that he could impersonate a human.


Question: How did Aristotle influence Thomas Aquinas?

Answer: Imagine you were on an expedition to the Amazon Forest and you discovered a lost civilization. Among the many relics of this ancient world were the complete archives of their space program. The task that you and your group set yourselves is to read through all of the documentation, figure out how the space program worked, determine where it was sound and where it had flaws, and finally to try to design your own modern space ships.


That was effectively what happened to Thomas Aquinas and his medieval Christian world. The philosophical project of the ancient Greek world had fallen into the laps of Catholic scholastics, through the Arab world, about 150 years before Aquinas was born. They gobbled up the documents of the Greek greats, seeking to learn how the Hellenists sought to reach the heavens by reason alone.


The scholastics all generally agreed that Aristotle had the best space program; only his metaphysics was wholly coherent. His rocket actually made it to space. Plus, he was the only one that seemed to go to great trouble to develop a scientific, conceptual apparatus for philosophic endeavor. To him we owe the invaluable distinctions which form the only launching pad from which a philosopher can hope to safely leave this earth: act and potency, substance and accident, matter and form, the four causes, the ten categories.


Aquinas loved Aristotle’s clarity, embraced his realist concepts, and imitated his scientific and even surgical methodology in plumbing reality. Through the friendship of those two minds across the ages began, says Chesterton, “what is commonly called the appeal to Aquinas and Aristotle. It might be called the appeal to Reason and the Authority of the Senses.”


If there were an epilogue to this tale, it would be that Aquinas refashioned Aristotle’s space program, deepening greatly the conceptual apparatus, supplementing it in places, and repairing some grave flaws by means of Christian insights into reality. Using his new-fangled, modern, medieval rocket, Aquinas launched a metaphysics that took unaided reason to a God endowed with attributes far richer than Aristotle’s Prime Mover. Aquinas’s rational, realist God could be reached by five ways, with only one of them harkening back to Aristotle’s old path to the heavens.


Aquinas and Aristotle, two kindred minds with a passion for mental precision in philosophical pursuits. Perhaps, indeed, it was a match made in Heaven.


Question: What is the relationship between philosophy and metaphysics?

Answer: According to Aristotle, metaphysics is the king of philosophy. Kings are those who give orders, while subjects are those who receive orders. But metaphysics gives the orders to the other sciences, in the sense that it puts them all in their place and it gives to them, as it were, the principles by which they are to work.


How is it that metaphysics obtained the kingship, you may ask? Metaphysics obtained it by right, by the fact that it studies the ultimate end of all that exists and not some means to the end. Aristotle uses the image of a shipyard, wherein you have a crowd of men working to build a ship. But the knowledge that each man has varies.


There are the lowest workers, the manual laborers, who only know how to shape wood. They understand the material cause, which is the lowest cause in reality, the substrate of reality, if you will. Then, there are the foremen, those who direct the manual laborers in how they are to prepare the wood and how they are to shape it to construct a ship. The foremen understand the formal cause, which is higher than the material cause, because it determines matter. Finally, we have the architect, literally the ‘chief worker’ in the Greek etymology of the word. The architect has a greater knowledge than anyone else in the shipyard, because he understands intimately the purpose for which the ship is being made and all of the means that are needed to attain that end. As such, he directs everyone in the shipyard. He is, if you will, the king of the shipyard.


Something similar holds for metaphysics, which Aristotle identifies with wisdom. The wise man is like the architect in that, just as the architect has a total knowledge of reality, so the wise man has a total knowledge of reality, its ultimate cause. By knowing the ultimate cause, the wise man or metaphysician is able to put all bodies of human knowledge in their proper place. In this way, he orders all other bodies of knowledge and gives them their marching order.


Such is the relationship between metaphysics and the other sciences. Thus, while it is only one branch of philosophy, it is also the king of philosophy.


May Questions

Question: Is it true you propose some kind of Old-Earth Creationism, saying that cosmic evolution is realistic but biological macroevolution is not? If so, does your book explain the formation of planetoids?

Answer: Yes, it is true that I propose what may be called an 'old earth creationism' in my book. The main reason is that there are solid scientific arguments for the Big Bang Theory and for an old earth (4.55 billion years), while there are solid scientific grounds for rejecting macroevolution. In the book, I discuss the philosophical backdrop to these questions, but I also delve into the scientific evidence. Specifically, I consider in detail the methodology of radioactive dating, and also the basis for measuring star distances. However, I do not discuss the formation of our solar system.

   In short, here is the general view of the book:

  • Theology – the Church has us believe in a creation in time by an all-wise, transcendent God, as well as the direct creation of Adam and Eve, who are the parents of all humans living on Earth. All questions of the age of the universe and its development, however, are left to science.
  • Philosophy – realist philosophy demands that there be a transcendent Being, who is existence itself, to be responsible for the creation and conservation of all beings in the cosmos. But such a being could, in theory, so design beings—at least inanimate beings—that they would develop in an ordered fashion by means of natural laws that He built into the universe.
  • Science – empirical evidence provides means for arguing probabilistically that the universe, along with space and time, began with a single burst of energy 13.7 billion years ago and then developed by means of extremely fine-tuned laws to produce the stars and galaxies of today. Empirical evidence also indicates that it is absolutely impossible, given the laws of nature and the properties of matter and living things as we know them, that life could ever come from non-life, or that new natural species of life could evolve from less complex natural species.

Question: Can you provide the theory that has been invented to deal with the fact that you have implicitly censured all Church Fathers as possessing a “Protestant notion of God” and using “Protestant principles” of exegesis? 

Answer: On the contrary, I have not censured the Fathers in any way, but rather have supported them. Let me explain. There are two levels of agreement with another. One is agreeing with them at the level of principles; the other is agreeing with them on how the principles are applied in this or that situation. You would probably agree that holding the same principles as someone else is more fundamental than agreeing in all of their concrete applications. That is, after all, the main way that we, as Catholics, can claim to be holding the same faith as those Fathers whom we respect so much.


To apply this distinction to the case at hand, I hold to the very same principles of exegesis that the Fathers held, the very same attitude in the interpretation of Scripture, which is the attitude of the Catholic Church. This attitude, which is detailed in my book (see p. 250), has us hold to the literal sense of Scripture unless that sense is ruled out by other information. This attitude was especially exemplified by Sts. Augustine and Thomas Aquinas. The latter states the following (I, q.68, a.1): 


Two things must be observed in questions of this sort, as Augustine teaches. First, one must hold unshakably that Scripture is true. Second, since Sacred Scripture can be interpreted in many ways, one must not hold to a given interpretation so firmly that, once that interpretation is clearly shown to be false, he presume to assert that the false interpretation is Scripture’s meaning, lest, by doing so, he expose Scripture to ridicule by non-believers, and close off for them the path to belief.


Now, at the time of the Fathers, it was unclear whether or not the six-day description of Genesis 1 for the development of the universe could be established by science or refuted by science. This is why some Fathers held to the literal sense of that description while others held that the description was to be taken in an allegorical sense. Regardless, the Fathers certainly held different opinions on the application of the principles, but they did not hold different opinions on the principles themselves of interpreting Scripture. By and large, they would have agreed that, if science was able to show that the universe was not created in six, twenty-four days, then that must not be held to be the sense of Scripture.

Since science has now provided substantial evidence that universe and earth are much older than 6000 years, and that they developed over long periods of time, instead of having been created fully formed, then I suggest that we should, in the spirit of the Fathers, reject YEC as incompatible with a proper understanding of Scripture.


Besides, none of the Popes who rejected YEC considered themselves as censoring the Fathers. It is not a question here of choosing either the teaching of the Fathers or choosing the late 19th and early 20th century magisterial teaching on Scriptural exegesis. Rather, it is a question of choosing both or choosing neither.

April Questions

Question: Does The Realist Guide speak about the discovery of exoplanets and the possibility of life on other planets?

Answer: You are in luck; the book does speak about aliens! Specifically, there is a section running from pages 421-424 entitled “The search for aliens”. In that section, I indicate two reasons why materialists desperately desire that life be found on other planets:

  1. As support for Darwinian evolution – in the view of evolutionists, life evolved on Earth by a mere random set of occurrences. Because there is little to no science behind this claim and since it conflicts with common sense, it seems highly implausible to the common man. If, however, life were found on other planets, that would make such an evolution seem more likely. It would give the appearance that all you need for life to appear is raw chemicals and the right planet with the right circumstances. After all, the evolutionists could claim, we are finding life all over the universe, so it must appear spontaneously by random processes.
  2. As support for the so-called Copernican principle – materialists have a theology and, in that theology, human beings are insignificant because they are not the product of a loving God, but rather are the product of blind material forces. Atheistic scientists have tried to give a scientific veneer to this theology by endowing it with the title of a ‘principle’ and linking it to the name of the great Catholic scientist and cleric Nicolaus Copernicus. They co-opt Copernicus for their delegitimizing of human beings because he advocated heliocentrism, in which system Earth and the humans on it are not at the center of the universe. According to the atheists, if humans are not at the geographic center of the universe, they are insignificant. And if they are insignificant, they must not be created by a God who loves them.

It turns out that both of these ideas are wrong-headed. If we found life elsewhere in the universe, that would not prove that life appeared there by random processes. And the fact that human beings are not at the center of the universe says little to nothing about their significance. In fact, the medievals believed that Earth was at the center bottom of the universe and life was a process of striving to reach a higher place than Earth, in the vertical direction, something like a third or fifth heaven.


In the end, science is able to show definitively that life cannot come from non-life by merely natural processes. The reason is that there is an immense chasm of complexity between the most complex of non-living things and the least complex of living things. This chasm cannot be bridged by random processes, with the laws of the universe as we know them. Thus, if there is life anywhere else in the universe, it will be there because God put it there, the same God Who made humans the most significant creatures in His cosmos by conferring upon them the power of reason and so creating them in His image.


Question: You have stated that “If God created everything fully formed, according to the literal sense of Genesis, then, based on what we know about planets and stars, they would have the appearance of having been formed over millions of years, but the Bible would be telling us that they were formed in an instant. In other words, the reality that God has created would be telling us one thing and the Bible would be telling us another.” But wouldn’t the same thing be true with the creation of Adam, whom the Church holds us to believe was created directly by God?

Answer: It is true that it is part of Catholic belief that Adam was created directly by God, while it is not part of Catholic belief that God created the universe in a fully formed state. My claim is that a problem arises if we hold, with Protestant creationists, that the Bible teaches that God created the universe fully formed, while our senses are telling us that heavenly bodies have a long history of formation. The problem is that this creates (no pun intended) a conflict between faith and reason. A person has to choose between what God is supposedly saying in the Bible and what his reason is telling him about the universe. The Catholic Church never places her children in such an either-or situation with faith and reason, while Protestants have historically not only been content with such a situation, but some of their leading lights, such as Luther, consider such a situation to be a mark of true religion. The reason for this is that they often see reason as being outside the realm of faith or even as being inimical to faith, while Catholics see reason as being an important aspect of religion and faith.


That being said, the parallel between God creating the universe fully formed and God creating Adam fully formed is not accurate. For one thing, Adam is a single person, not the whole of the material reality that is being investigated by scientists. Secondly, Adam would not in any way have been deceived about his age. Though his body would appear to have gone through the normal stages of childhood and adolescence, yet he would not have a belly button, nor would he have any memories of life before the day of his creation. Those pieces of evidence from reason would be sufficient to confirm what God was asking him to hold on faith, namely, that he was created directly.


If God was a being who wanted to teach Adam and his descendants to mistrust their reason as something foul—an objective for Luther’s God—then He would have chosen to create Adam with a belly button and with fake memories of his childhood and growing up in Eden. In such a scenario, we would have an equivalent parallel with a universe that was created fully formed, yet having the appearance of being ancient.


Question: Reading your book, it seems as if formal causes are the same as final causes. In the example you give on page 36 of The Realist Guide, you say that the formal cause of an aeroplane is “flying machine” and its final cause is “flying”. How is that different?

Answer: The four causes are difficult concepts, because of their conceptual breadth. This can make it seem that they overlap and, to some degree, they do necessarily overlap, in that a secondary meaning of one cause might be identified with the primary meaning of another cause.


That being said, let me try to distinguish between formal and final causes. The formal cause is what a thing is, while the final cause is what a thing is meant to become, its perfection. The formal cause is an immaterial principle that unifies the matter of a material being, while the final cause is the goal towards which the being is directed, by its nature. The formal cause is something intrinsic to the thing, while the final cause is something extrinsic to it. The formal cause is what points a being towards its goal, while the final cause is that towards which it is directed.


Let’s consider the aeroplane example. The formal cause of the aeroplane is stated to be "flying machine", and this phrase uses the purpose of the aeroplane–"flying"–to set it apart from all other machines. However, “flying” in this context is meant to indicate the way that the parts of the machine are configured, i.e. it is configured in such a way that it is apt for flying. “Flying” here is not meant to indicate a state of affairs that is currently taking place, something that is being achieved at this moment. Rather, “flying” in that sense is something that the aeroplane needs to achieve; it is something for it to shoot for; it is a goal, as yet unrealised, to which it is directed. The fact that the formal cause directs the aeroplane towards the goal of flying does not mean that the formal cause is that goal. Rather, the formal cause is a principle that makes the attainment of that goal possible for the aeroplane. Or, it makes the aeroplane precisely just that sort of thing that is meant to fly. But the formal cause does not cause the plane to achieve its goal; it only constitutes it in a mode of being whereby that goal can be achieved. Yet it still remains for the plane to actually perform the activity of flying, at which point it will not only be constituted as a thing that can fly, by its formal cause, but it will be a thing that has attained its final end, by performing the action of flying for which it was made.


Or consider human beings. Formally, human beings are “rational animals”. This is a statement about their type of being, which is determined by their formal cause. Because they are rational animals, they have as their goal or final cause the performance of rational activity. Rational activity, in the moral realm, is virtue, while irrational activity is vice. Humans are made to be virtuous and avoid evil. However, we all know that, although humans are virtue-capable by their formal cause, which constitutes them as rational animals, that does not guarantee that they actually practice the virtue which is their end. That humans are directed to virtue (formal cause) does not entail necessarily that they attain virtue (final cause). This fact that having an end is not the same thing as attaining an end necessitates that we assign a different causal category to the principle which directs a being towards an end (formal cause) and the end itself (final cause).

March Questions

Question: How do you resolve the Catholic belief in transubstantiation based on your thoughts about religion being "realist" and relating to our human way of knowing?

Answer: I discuss reasonable religion in chapter 3 of The Realist Guide. It does not seek to prove mysteries of faith, as they are, by definition, above reason. At the same time, reasonable religion does seek to show that the mysteries of faith are not contrary to reason, but rather are in harmony with reason.


To take the example that you propose, transubstantiation. The Catholic Church holds that the Eucharist is Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. This is a teaching that comes from God and is above reason. But, since Catholicism is a reasonable religion, Catholic theologians seek to show that the teaching of the Eucharist is not contrary to reason. They do this by trying to explain what happens at the consecration at Mass, using concepts taken from realist philosophy.


It was in the process of seeking to bridge reason and faith, as far as they can be bridged, that theologians coined the word 'transubstantiation' in order to explain the mystery of the Eucharist. This explanation relies on distinctions about reality that were developed before the time of Christ, by pagan philosophers, especially the distinction between 'substance' and 'accidents'. You need this distinction to be able to make sense of reality, but it also happens that this distinction can help us understand how the mystery of the Eucharist is not unreasonable.


Using the distinction between 'substance' and 'accidents', St. Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa Theologica, III, q.75, a.4, explains that, as far as reason can tell, without being able to prove it, what is happening with the Eucharist, is that the First Cause, God, Who has power over the whole being of creatures, is causing the substance of bread to cease and the substance of Christ to be present, at the moment of consecration, with the accidents of bread still remaining. It is perfectly reasonable to say that God has this power. And when we couple this with the reasonable evidence that God has declared that He is present in the Eucharist, we see that belief in the doctrine of the Eucharist itself is eminently reasonable. Transubstantiation as an account of what happens at Mass is so important for the Church that she binds her children to hold it as a dogma of faith.


For a modern Thomist's treatment of how belief in transubstantiation harmonizes with realist philosophy, please see David Oderberg, Real Essentialism, pp. 155-156.


Question: This article seems to provide decisive evidence for Darwinian evolution. But your book claims that there is no solid evidence for evolution, at least for macro-evolution.

Answer: I completely agree with the article’s presentation of the way that science works. If I were to put it in my own language, it involves these steps: 

  1. Collection of empirical data from reality.
  2. Formation of a model, a scientific theory, that fits the data.
  3. Making predictions as to what scientists should find in reality if the model is true.
  4. Verification or falsification of the model by testing its predictions.

I also agree with the claim of the article that evolutionary theory predicts that we will find, in reality, genetic similarities among all living things such that we should be able to construct an evolutionary tree of descent of all things in the biological world from a common ancestor.


Where I differ from the article is that it claims that evolution’s prediction has been verified. I would say it definitely has not. Scientists who are in the business of making trees of life on the basis of genetic similarity routinely make different ones, because the tree turns out very differently depending on their point of comparison, i.e. what aspect of the genome they seek to compare among animals. This fact calls into question the very idea that an argument for common descent can be made on the basis of genetic similarity. 


For a thorough, solid, and even magisterial treatment of why all attempts of evolutionists to do a “phylogenetic reconstruction” (construction of a tree of life on the basis of genes) have only resulted in chaos, I cannot recommend highly enough chapter 6 of Darwin’s Doubt. A quotation from a 2009 New Scientist article on page 119 of that book sums up the situation: “today the tree-of-life project ‘lies in tatters, torn to pieces by an onslaught of negative evidence’.”


Question: Why shouldn’t theological arguments be made for something like geocentrism?

Answer: For two reasons: a) geocentrism has no direct bearing on matters of faith; b) geocentrism has been soundly disproved by empirical evidence.


In regard to a, it is true that Catholic authors of old have drawn some spiritual reflections from the idea of the earth as being at the center of the universe. However, this is not to use geocentrism as a support for the faith, but rather as a means to stimulate reflection in a faith that is already believed.


It is not the practice of the Church to bind her members to believe in a certain interpretation of the Bible, unless a dogma of faith is concerned. Thus, Catholics are bound to believe that there was a literal Adam and Eve, that they are the parents of the entire human race, and that they committed a sin that is passed on to everyone. These historical truths are closely connected to important dogmas of faith.


But there is no direct connection between geocentrism and any dogma. This is why medieval scholastics, centuries before Copernicus, were able to treat in all freedom both theological and scientific arguments for heliocentrism. This is why Copernicus himself, in his famous book arguing heliocentrism on scientific grounds, also gave arguments why heliocentrism was not against the Bible and also why it redounded more to the glory of God. 


With regard to b, the Catholic Church allows arguments of human reason to sway her interpretation of the Bible. The reason for this is that she jealously defends both faith and reason. And so, once there was solid empirical evidence that geocentrism was false—the most solid evidence did not come until the 19th century, long after the Galileo case—the Church was quite happy to accept that the Bible does not teach geocentrism, the conclusion that Galileo had wanted to force on the Church prematurely. At that point, it was clear to Catholics that they should no longer try to force a literal interpretation on passages of the Bible that speak of the earth being fixed and unmoving.


To argue geocentrism on the basis of the Bible today is, then, contrary to the Catholic spirit in reading the Bible.


Question: You seem to hold that a quantum vacuum is nothing. But that is not the case. Empirical evidence shows that quantum vacuums do really produce subatomic particles. Thus, you should not ridicule scientists for adhering to that empirical evidence. 

Answer: I am aware that a quantum vacuum is not nothing, but is rather a field of energy and that, upon fluctuations of this energy field, subatomic particles are produced. I have no problem accepting this empirical evidence and, like you, I believe it to be solid science.


What I wish to ridicule and what I believe deserves richly to be ridiculed is the interpretation that certain scientists impose on this empirical fact and the language with which they describe that empirical fact. As you probably realize, it is common for scientists to follow the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum physics, wherein they claim that the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle indicates that the law of causality is not operative at the quantum level. Now, since the law of causality is one of the first principles of all reasoning, it is irrational to deny that law. Moreover, it is impossible to do science if the law of causality is not a law of reality, all reality.


Secondly, atheist scientists, like Lawrence Krauss, after denying the law of causality, then proceed to say that subatomic particles are produced from 'nothing'. That is their word, not my word. By 'nothing', they mean no cause or no agent or, in some cases, actual non-being. So, when I refer to particles appearing from nothing in a quantum vacuum, I am not using my terminology, but their terminology.


I believe that these scientists deserve richly to be taken to task for the irrational interpretation they impose on the empirical fact and the absurd language they use to associate with their interpretation in order to preach their atheistic faith that, in the end, everything comes from nothing.


February Questions

Question: Can an argument be made from theology for a young age of the human race?

Answer: Chapter 3 of The Realist Guide covers the way that religions argue their dogmas. The main point is that theological arguments are essentially arguments of authority. This does not mean, however, that they are not based on reason. On the contrary, it is the duty of the branch of theology called apologetics to establish the reasonableness of the authorities being invoked.


So, if you wanted to argue a proposition like "The human race started no later than 10,000 years ago" as being part of the Catholic faith, you would try to build a case from the following authorities:   

  1. Sacred Scripture
  2. The writings of the Fathers
  3. Documents of the Magisterium

In addition, you would make an argument of reason, but, in the theological argument, the argument from reason alone would not hold as much weight as the arguments of authority.


According to the strength of the argument of authority, theologians give a grade of certainty to the conclusion being drawn. That grade can vary from a mere theological opinion (lowest) to a dogma of divine and Catholic faith (highest). In the case of the proposition mentioned above, I believe it would fall into the category of a theological opinion.


Question: If God could have created the world as explained in the Scriptures, why would he use the Big Bang? Wouldn't that mean that God was trying to hide the way He created things? It could seem that this wouldn't make sense, especially since this way of Creation is much more likely to give impression that the Earth is accidental than the literal Creation?

Answer: In my view, things are exactly the opposite of the way that you portray them. If God created everything fully formed, as described in Genesis, then, based on what we know about planets and stars, they would have the appearance of having been formed over millions of years, but the Bible would be telling us that they were formed in an instant. In other words, the reality that God has created would be telling us one thing and the Bible would be telling us another. That is, in fact, the Protestant position, as I explain in chapter 7 of The Realist Guide. Their idea of God is that He wanted to deceive our minds by creating a world in an instant that appears to have developed over long periods of time. Why would He do this? In order to convince us that the reason that He has given us is useless! I would argue that this is not the God that we worship as Catholics and not really a God that anyone would want to worship.


As for your last question above, no, a divinely-commenced  Big Bang, far from making the development of the Earth seem accidental, rather makes it seem extremely carefully choreographed. Look up "fine-tuning of the universe" and you will see what I am talking about. Or read chapter 9 of my book.


Question: Have you heard about Mr. Robert Sungenis? He is a Catholic who holds Geocentric position. He offers (or at least used to offer) prize of several thousand for anyone who would prove the Heliocentric system to him. If the Heliocentric system is proven, wouldn't anyone who knows about science win the award?

Answer: I criticize the theories of Robert Sungenis in chapter 7 of my book. First criticism: those theories do not interpret the Bible as a Catholic. According to them, geocentrism is a theological question; in the mind of the Church, it is purely a scientific question. Second criticism: his theories take no fair account of the very solid empirical evidence available in support of heliocentrism. Thus, for instance, he did not give Ken Cole the $1000 that he promised when Ken Cole refuted his position. Third criticism: if his work were properly scientific, it would take empirical evidence and show how it supports geocentrism. Rather, he a) pokes holes in modern scientific theory; b) proposes that the geocentric model is plausible without providing real data to prove that the earth is actually at the center of the universe. For more information, please visit Geocentrism Debunked.


Question: Does your position on scientific questions represent the position of Society of St. Pius X?  

Answer: The SSPX does not hold official positions on science. The SSPX is a Catholic organization that holds to all of the teachings of the Catholic Church, full stop. But the Catholic Church has never mandated that Catholics hold to geocentrism or heliocentrism, or that they hold to the Big Bang Theory or any other theory. What I do in my book is try to indicate to Catholics what questions are theological and what questions are scientific. Then, on the scientific questions, I try to indicate what opinions correspond to realism and which do not. Heliocentrism and the Big Bang Theory (which allows for God and even points to God) correspond to realism and so a proper prudential intellectual judgment. Neo-Darwinian evolution, in large part, does not correspond to realism.


Question: What do you think of the position of the Kolbe Center on the Bible and science?

Answer: While I respect the good will of those at the Kolbe Center, I cannot but remark that they adopt the fundamentalist Protestant stance on the relation between the Bible and science. As I explain in great detail in chapter 7 of The Realist Guide, that exegetical stance has several terrible effects:

  1. It makes the Bible out to be an enemy of science.
  2. It makes religion out to be an enemy of reason.
  3. It makes God out to be an arbitrary ruler of the universe.

For these reasons, Catholics should adhere to the exegetical principles of the Scriptural encyclicals of Popes Leo XIII, Benedict XV, and Pius XII, which indicate that the Bible is not to be treated as a science book.


Question: Do you no longer believe in the creation story in Genesis?

Answer: I read Genesis in the way that the Catholic Church has directed her children to read it. The Church indicates that Genesis 1 is meant to teach us important dogmas of faith, but is not meant to teach us science. Here is a summary of what we are held to believe and what we are not held to believe. 

What Catholics are held to believe from Genesis 1-3

  • There is one God, outside of the universe, who created that universe from nothing, such that it had a beginning in time.
  • God created man directly and Eve was formed from Adam.
  • Monogenism – the entire human race has a single set of first parents.
  • Our first parents were created in a state of original justice, with gifts of integrity and immortality.
  • They fell from that state by sin and the wound of their sin was communicated to the entire human race.  

What Catholics are not held to believe from Genesis 1-3

  • the universe is a certain age, the Earth is a certain age, the human race is a certain age.
  • the universe developed in a certain way 

This is why Cardinal Ruffini, a staunchly orthodox Cardinal at Vatican II, wrote the following in his book The Theory of Evolution Judged by Reason and Faith:

"God could very well reveal (and who doubts it?) in what order and in what time He made the various things appear in the world; but in His inscrutable wisdom He preferred to leave such questions to human research."