Friday, July 16, 2010


I'm taking a class on Religion and Science at University of Dallas. While doing some research for my paper, I ran across this cool little article on Wikipedia: List of Roman Catholic scientist-clerics. The bulk of the article is just an alphabetical list of these scientist-clerics with short descriptions of what they did. The article begins with an introduction, from which this is an excerpt.
Many great scientists throughout history have also been Roman Catholic clerics (or can it be said that many Roman Catholic clerics were also scientists), including many of the most prominent scientists in history. These include such illustrious names as Nicolaus Copernicus, Gregor Mendel, Albertus Magnus, Roger Bacon, Pierre Gassendi, Roger Joseph Boscovich, Marin Mersenne, Francesco Maria Grimaldi, Nicole Oresme, Jean Buridan, Robert Grosseteste, Christopher Clavius, Nicolas Steno, Athanasius Kircher, Giovanni Battista Riccioli, William of Ockham, and many others. Hundreds of others have made important contributions to science from the Middle Ages through the present day. These scientist-clerics should give pause to all those who consider science and religion to be incompatible.
Some of you may ask, "what is a cleric?" It's just a word for a member of the clergy. In the Catholic Church, many of them are priests, but there can be monks or friars who are not ordained who are considered clerics. Also deacons are clerics as well as members of what were known in the Middle Ages as minor orders. For example, Copernicus took minor orders, but never became a priest.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Summary of Christian Doctrine

The Ignatius Press website put up an excerpt from one of their books by Catholic poet Paul Claudel. It is a beautiful summary of Christian doctrine using unconventional language that caused me to see things from a little different perspective. I suppose that is the job of a poet. One warning, there are a couple of Latin phrases that might not be familiar to some of you, so I will provide a translation. Fiat voluntas mea means "my will be done," and fiat voluntas tua means "your will be done."

Here is a little extract to whet your appetite:
How do we know a living being whom we cannot see? By the movement of which he is the cause. The, mole under the ground, the hare in the bush, the heart beneath the fingers. For we see that the whole universe is in movement. In this world all is movement, all bears witness to the divine restlessness of nature, always in a state of creation, incapable of existing by itself or in the presence of an unmoving Creator; everything betrays perpetual change.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Humble Theology

Continuing his series on medieval theologians, the Pope talked about Blessed John Duns Scotus, the 13th century Franciscan theologian, who espoused the doctrine of Mary's "Preventive Redemption," also known as the Immaculate Conception. This had long been a belief at the popular level, but it was not accepted by theologians until Scotus figured out how to explain it. The Pope says this should be an example to theologians to "always listen to the source of popular faith and maintain the humility and simplicity of children."

Such humility is very important. I am often surprised at some at some of the things that some theologians have the nerve to say about the faith. They seem to think so highly of their own intelligence that they are willing to not only deny, but even ridicule orthodox Christian beliefs. The fact that it is common belief even by those in their own church means nothing. Years ago I saw a news report about some large theology conference, and one of the attendees was interviewed who said that the beliefs of the "man in the pew" is just "folk religion" and has nothing to do with what these real theologians work on. Although I admit that sometimes we can get more technical than some believers would be interested in, theology should never be detached from common faith. Pope Benedict XVI is one of the most brilliant theologians alive today, but he is also a holy and humble man who knows that brilliance is not a guarantee of truth, but can even lead away from the truth if we're not very careful.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Georgia On My Mind

I didn't much care for the Georgia font when it started appearing on computers in the mid-90s. I think at the time I was much more into modern looking san-serif fonts, and Georgia looked very traditional to me. However, I am seeing it used more, and since it was designed to be very readable on computer screens, I've found that I appreciate reading websites that use it. So, I'm trying it out on the blog, and so far I'm pretty happy with it.